As I pointed out last time, the Sabbath is a declaration of God's sovereignty over time. In obeying the Sabbath we are declaring that God is supreme over every aspect of our life. As human beings we tend to fill our lives with created things rather than the Creator. This is idolatry. For some, work becomes all encompassing, For others, the pursuit of pleasure and enterntainment becomes a savory delight that gains a grip upon their lives. While work is a blessing from God and recreation is an enjoyment and token of God's grace upon us, when these things control us they become sin. God has declared one day in seven as distinct and separate--a Sabbath's rest; a ceasing of these activities for a whole day. He is telling us that these things must not rule us. When we declare that every day is the same we are declaring our sovereignty over God. For those who declare that for the Christian every day is filled with worship they miss the point. While it is true that we live each day to God's glory, God has declared that one day in seven will be set apart from our normal daily activities.
One of the benefits of the Sabbath is in the surrender of our lives to God's design. God says this day is set apart. Some might balk at such control over our lives. We want absolute autonomy and liberty. That is why Sabbatarians are often accused of legalism. We don't want to be restricted from watching football on television or playing a video game. We don't want to be restricted from making Sunday an extension of Saturday. The Sabbath is a reminder that life isn't about self. As we look away from self we can see the Sabbath as a wonderful opportunity to serve others Many of the confessions of faith add "works of necessity and mercy" to the proper observance of the Lord's Day.
The Blessing of Mercy
One of the aspects of the Sabbath was the idea that all deserved this day of rest. The 4th Commandment speaks of slaves and strangers and visitors. It even included the animals! Refraining from shopping or eating at restaurants is an expression of our desire to provide a Sabbath's rest to others. It is a denial of our selfish interestes for the sake of others. It is a wonderful expression of mercy. You might argue that the businesses are going to be open anyway. This may be true, but are you going to contribute to their sin. Will you deny yourself for the sake of others?
The Sabbath opens many other opportinities to serve others. Jesus healed on the Sabbath and offered mercy to those in need. Don't forget, "the Sabbath was made for man" (Mark 2:27). Perhaps the Sabbath might provide occasion for you to visit the sick or lonely and enjoy the blessing of being used of God to bless others. Hospitality is a wonderful activity for the Sabbath. Our church ends the Sabbath with a fellowship meal. Our ladies provide wonderful dishes (prepared before the Lord's Day) as expressions of their love and service to others, and we fellowship with one another, often setting aside our own selfish interests in order to enter into the lives of others and listen to their concerns. Even the cleanup is an expression of service and selflessness.
Thus the Sabbath is a wonderful blessing and opportunity to step outside ourselves in service to others. To spend this day in self-indulgence is to rob ourselves of the blessings of the Sabbath.