Published by Jason Taylor on Sun, 25 Jun 2017 15:48

Productivity is now a ‘thing’. A quick internet search will turn up blogs, podcasts, individuals and organisations all trying to help you get the very most out of every minute of every day. Of course, you need to start with your ‘Morning Ritual’ – often a cup of green tea, some meditation and journaling followed by your MIT, or Most Important Tasks. It’s a good idea, I gather, if you have to eat a frog to do that first! This is productivity talk for getting the difficult/unpleasant tasks done first so that you feel a sense of accomplishment and can clear the decks for other tasks. Whatever you do it should have been planned and scheduled and you should do all you can to minimise interruptions. After a full and productive day you review it, carry any uncompleted tasks over to the following day and check your diary for that day to prepare yourself mentally for it.

I’m all for being productive! I even do some of the things I’ve just mentioned, or variations on them but can I just give a shout out for rest.  If you forget to rest – to have to re-creation time, you will soon stop being productive at all. This is where the biblical idea of Sabbath comes in. It turns out that God wants us to rest now and then; so much so that he made it one of the Ten Commandments.

"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" is one of the Ten Commandments found in the Hebrew Bible. The full text of the commandment reads: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.

There are a few things to note here about the Sabbath: 

Firstly, we are to “remember”. Sabbath literally means rest. “Remember the Sabbath day” means, “Don’t forget to take a day off”.

Second, “Keep it holy”; something holy is set aside or set apart from everything else like it, so our Sabbath day should not resemble any other day – no quick check of the work email then! Specifically, we are to keep it “to the Lord”; In other words, the rest is not to be aimless rest, but God-centred rest. Attention is to be directed to God in a way that is more concentrated and steady than on ordinary days. Keep the day holy by keeping the focus on the holy God.

Third, the holy rest day should be one out of every seven: "Six days you shall labour, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God." Work six, rest one. Work six, rest one. That's the pattern prescribed in the Ten Commandments. Note it does not say that the Sabbath ("rest day") has to be the last day of the week or the first day of the week. The concept of weeks is not even mentioned. The command is simply work six, rest one. Every seventh day should be a Sabbath.

The final, and perhaps most important, thing to note is that it’s a COMMANDMENT not a suggestion. It’s in the same paragraph as not committing idolatry, murder and blasphemy so I think we can assume God takes the Sabbath seriously. Maybe we should too!

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