Living on Sabbath Time: Day 5/31

  • “One of the secrets to my many victories was that I learned the importance of five minutes.” _Napoleon

Romans 7:6 New Living Translation (NLT) Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.

Yesterday’s verse was a reminder that Jesus didn’t come to do away with the Law but to take it to a new level.  As He put it, our observation of the Law must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees.   Wow!  The scribes and Pharisees were the major leaguer of their day in keeping the Law, how can we can compete with them?

Paul helps us with this seemingly impossible task.  He has a lot to say about the Law in his treatise to the Roman church.  Today’s verse sums it up well; because Jesus satisfied all the demands of the Law we do not have to spend every waking moment of the day trying to figure out how to obey the Law to keep the judgment of God away.

The truth is that the Law was given to us partly so that we could see how desperately we needed a savior.  An example is the highway speed limits.  The posted speed limit doesn’t stop us from speeding, it lets us know we when we are speeding.   That is what the Law does.  To carry this a little further, Jesus’ death on the Cross would be like Him coming to earth and paying in advance every speeding ticket fine that you would ever produce.  All you have to do is acknowledge that He did it and accept His free gift and you are free.  You are free from the penalty of the Law and in one way, you are free from the Law.

But, the speed limit signs not be taken down they would still be there but now your approach would be different.  Since all your fines are already paid you would now be free to look at why the speed limit is posted.  Your motivation for observing the speed limit is not a joyless effort of keeping the letter of the Law so that you won’t get caught but because you know the limit is there to protect you and make your life better.

For example, a speed limit of 35 in a residential area is there to protect you from hitting a running child that might dart across the
street or a speed limit of 45 in a busy commercial area is there to make the flow of traffic safer as cars are exiting or entering the highway.

I can hear you asking, “What does all this have to do with our Sabbath month?”  Just this, don’t look at our Sabbath month as a time to figure out what not to do so that you can please God and escape judgment.  When you believed in Jesus and accepted Him as your Savior and Lord you pleased God and escaped judgment.  Sabbath month is about looking at the “spirit of the Law.”  It is about asking yourself why God gave you the fourth commandment to keep the Sabbath holy.  The correct question is to ask is not, “What should I not do”; but rather. “What should I do?”

There was a time that Napoleon’s quote (see beginning) was one of my favorite quotes.  I lived under the relentless pressure of trying to maximize every moment and seize every opportunity by making every minute count.  I had my life organized almost to the point of insanity and I’d feel guilty when I “wasted” time.  But since I’ve begun to pursue the meaning of enjoy God’s gift to us called “Sabbath rest” I have been reminded that all of Napoleon’s victories were empty victories.  They didn’t last and they didn’t benefit mankind.  Matter of fact, Napoleon was a tyrant.  His relentless drive to be a success ended up costing thousands upon thousands their lives and driving countless others into poverty and sorrow.  In the end he finished his life, not ruling a vast empire, but confined to a tiny island.

I still like Napoleon’s quote about learning the value of five minutes but if I spend my days trying to keep the letter of law – trying
to maximizing every minute of the day in order to wring every second of production and profitability out of it – then my life will also be reduced to a tiny joyless island of rule-keeping just like the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day.

But since pursuing a Sabbath life I am asking myself why God has given me another five minutes.  Jesus has already done the work and paid all the penalties, what’s left for you and me is looking for the joys to experience, the moments to savor and the delights to discover.

As you go through this busy day with all its demands and duties, about the best the world can offer is to take a five minute smoke
break; Jesus has something far better – take several five minute Sabbath breaks.

Resting in Him,