In worship? In learning God’s will?
In catching up on your sleep or household duties?
Relaxing with your family?
Going to church? Sitting patiently through one more boring sermon?
Taking a bike ride through the neighborhood?
Praying? Eating popcorn while watching a movie? Entertaining friends? Singing?
Listening in rapt attention, even in awe, to a preacher expound on God’s Word?
Weeping in repentance?
Rejoicing in the Spirit?
Visiting the sick, the poor, prisoners, or the elderly? Travelling?
Listening to your favorite radio program?
How do you keep the third commandment? At some time or another I’ve done all of the above.
My goal for the Lord’s Day is found in Isaiah 58:13,14. “If thou turn thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour Him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob, thy father; for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.”
Just how strict should we be concerning activities on the Sabbath, the New Testament Lord’s Day? That is the big question. Legalism must be fought against just as much as license.
What did Jesus say about keeping God’s laws? He said He prefers mercy to sacrifice, meaning that mercy is more important. Back up to that scripture in Isaiah 58 and you will see merciful acts of kindness put into practice: assisting those who are hurting, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, bringing the poor into our homes to care for them.
(Now I’m going to state an opinion, so take this next paragraph with that in mind.) I believe when we are merciful toward others because we are aware of God’s mercy toward us, our adoration and worship of God increases.
It seems only fitting to me that verses 13 and 14 concerning keeping the Sabbath Day holy, (in Isaiah 58, which I quoted above) should follow the instructions to show mercy because it is worship and adoration that inspires us to keep the Sabbath Day holy, not the other way around. How you keep the Lord’s Day seems not as important to me as why.
(Photo credit: Fred Wabi-sabi. The photo is of my son, who is a highly skilled chess player, standing on a giant chess board.)
I see similarities between the way we live our lives and the game of chess. We make moves according to our knowledge, experience and circumstances, but always within the rules of the game. Some play the game almost flamboyantly while others are very rigid and terse. (I play like I’m in kindergarten learning to write with my fat pencil.) Each is playing chess, but how they play is unique to them. The style is not what’s important, or even the intentions because we all play to win. What’s important in chess is hope. Am I mistaken to say that Sunday worship is not determined by our moves but by hope in the object of our worship, or should I say, in the Person of our worship? Our hope is in the Lord, the LORD Who made heaven and earth, not in our style or rules of conduct.
“Instead of getting to Heaven at last, I’m going all along.” Emily Dickinson