Squabbling Over the Sabbath

Squabbling Over the Sabbath

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
–Exodus 20:8

How would you react to the following situations?

Situation number one: A friend tells you he has been offered a promotion with a much-needed increase in salary. The only catch is that his new position will require him to work every Sunday. But your church has a Saturday night worship service. His question to you is this: “Is Saturday night worship the same as Sunday morning worship? Should I take this new position or not?”

Situation number two: You had a hectic week. You didn’t have time to go to the hardware store to get a new blade for your lawn mower. So on Sunday, while you are munching on a doughnut at Sunday school, you mention to a friend that as soon as church is over you are going to the hardware store. Your friend is horrified. “You’re going to shop on Sunday? Don’t you realize that by shopping on Sunday you are encouraging a store to stay open, and that means employees will be missing church?” How do you respond to that objection?

Situation number three: Your child has been offered a spot on a select sports team that travels out of town three or four weekends every month. Being on the sports team will give your child a very good advantage in securing a college scholarship. The only problem is that your child will miss church almost every Sunday for a year. You are concerned, but the coach says, “Don’t worry. We will have a devotional thought on the field before the game every Sunday.” Do you allow your child to participate or not?

All of these situations have in common the fact that they deal with the issues of the Fourth Commandment: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). Does that commandment apply to us today who live under grace and not the Law? Are there principles of the Sabbath that apply to us even in the age of grace?

Few issues cause more controversy in the church than the Sabbath. That shouldn’t surprise us. Even Jesus had His own share of squabbles about the Sabbath. Jesus was constantly doing battle against the Pharisees–the sect of Judaism that was seeking to destroy Him. The Pharisees criticized Jesus for hanging out with sinners. Well, who else does the Savior hang out with except sinners? That’s why He came: not for the righteous but for the unrighteous. And this week we will see that the Pharisees also criticized Jesus for the way He kept–or didn’t keep–the holy day of worship called the Sabbath.

This week we will look at two of these interactions and learn some invaluable principles that apply to us 2,000 years later about what we ought to do on the Sabbath.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Squabbling Over the Sabbath” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.