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    Faith | 4 min read

    The Importance of Sabbath in Missions

    “‘Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.’” -Exodus 20:8-11

    A life of following Jesus has been referred to as a “race” and a “fight.” Those words evoke feelings of passion, determination, and perseverance. On the other hand, those words can also sound exhausting.

    The Christian life beckons believers to finish the race (Acts 20:24) and fight the good fight (2 Timothy 4:7)—and doing so with urgency in order to fulfill the Great Commission. But urgency without recognition of our God-given limits will eventually lead to burnout.

    That is where Sabbath comes in. Sabbath rest is a gift from God that was instituted at creation (Genesis 2:2-3). It is so important in God’s eyes that He commanded His people to observe it and even be put to death if they worked on the Sabbath (Exodus 31:15).

    That may seem extreme, but God created Sabbath out of love, not as a means for punishing His children. When we know our time on Earth is limited and the task at hand is urgent, it may seem counterintuitive to observe Sabbath. But learning to rest is not only a pleasure to enjoy; it is also critical for mission effectiveness.

    Sabbath Teaches Dependence on God

    “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” -2 Corinthians 3:5

    Jesus calls His followers to participate in the Great Commission, but it is not because He needs our abilities. Any skill or ability we have is from God, not of our own doing.

    Believers can forget that God chooses (not needs) to use us. Any advancement is the Great Commission is a result of God, not man.

    Taking Sabbath is a way to recognize that. When God’s people rest rather than work, they acknowledge that God is in control and will accomplish His plans with or without them. Sabbath humbles us and reminds us to depend upon the Lord—protecting us from the lie that we can be self-reliant.

    When we take Sabbath, we trust in God’s provision and believe that any work He has called us to will be completed.

    “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.” -Psalm 127:1-2

    Sabbath Allows Time to Recharge

    “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” -Mark 6:31

    All people are created with limited energy and strength. God designed humans to need sleep in order to function well. Studies have shown that lack of sleep can lead to adverse health effects, whereas a healthy amount of sleep can help our bodies heal and fight off illnesses. Even Jesus—God in flesh—needed periods of sleep and rest.

    Though the work we do may be good and God-honoring, it can drain us. Sabbath affords us the time to physically rest our bodies so we can energetically continue our work. Rest restores our strength so we can persevere through long and busy days.

    Sabbath is Designed for Devotion

    “‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’” -Matthew 11:28-30

    The Sabbath is a holy day. While it is a day of rest, God did not intend for it to be a full day of binge-watching TV. Sabbath is to be kept “‘to the Lord your God (Exodus 20:10)”—remembering and worshipping Him through rest.

    Weekly, we rest from the strain of day-to-day work, but we also rest in the Lord’s mercy and grace. We rest because we do not have to labor to earn salvation; it is a gift offered freely to us.

    “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” -Ephesians 2:8-9

    Jesus is the true source of spiritual rest. He removes the burden of striving to earn God’s approval and gives those who trust in Him rest for their souls. When we remember the Sabbath, we remember the work that Christ has already done on our behalf. We can rest and rejoice in the God of our salvation—the God whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light.

    As we work to bring this glorious news to the lost and unreached, we, too, must take time to pause and observe the Sabbath. This work is done on God’s strength, not ours. Sabbath allows our bodies to refuel and our hearts to be devoted to the Lord and His love for us.

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