"For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light..."

Observing the Sabbath

by Spencer W. Kimball

spencer w kimball

The Sabbath is for rest and righteous activities. In Hebrew the term Sabbath means "rest." It contemplates quiet tranquillity, peace of mind and spirit. It is a day to get rid of selfish interests and absorbing activities.

The Sabbath day is given throughout the generations of man for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between the Lord and his children forever. It is a day in which to worship and to express our gratitude and appreciation to the Lord. It is a day on which to surrender every worldly interest and to praise the Lord humbly, for humility is the beginning of exaltation. It is a day not for affliction and burden but for rest and righteous enjoyment. It is a day not for lavish banqueting, but a day of simple meals and spiritual feasting; not a day of abstinence from food, except fast day, but a day when maid and mistress might be relieved from the preparation. It is a day graciously given us by our Heavenly Father. It is a day when animals may be turned out to graze and rest; when the plow may be stored in the barn and other machinery cooled down; a day when employer and employee, master and servant may be free from plowing, digging, toiling. It is a day when the office may be locked and business postponed, and troubles forgotten; a day when man may be temporarily released from that first injunction, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground." (Genesis 3:19.) It is a day when bodies may rest, minds relax, and spirits grow. It is a day when songs may be sung, prayers offered, sermons preached, and testimonies borne, and when man may climb high, almost annihilating time, space, and distance between himself and his Creator.

The Sabbath is a day on which to take inventory—to analyze our weaknesses, to confess our sins to our associates and our Lord. It is a day on which to fast in "sackcloth and ashes." It is a day on which to read good books, a day to contemplate and ponder, a day to study lessons for priesthood and auxiliary organizations, a day to study the scriptures and to prepare sermons, a day to nap and rest and relax, a day to visit the sick, a day to preach the gospel, a day to proselyte, a day to visit quietly with the family and get acquainted with our children, a day for proper courting, a day to do good, a day to drink at the fountain of knowledge and of instruction, a day to seek forgiveness of our sins, a day for the enrichment of our spirit and our soul, a day to restore us to our spiritual stature, a day to partake of the emblems of his sacrifice and atonement, a day to contemplate the glories of the gospel and of the eternal realms, a day to climb high on the upward path toward our Heavenly Father.

The question may be asked: Can one observe the Sabbath without attending his meetings and doing full service in his spiritual responsibilities? The sick and the afflicted might have excuse, but the well and firm people should fill the day with constructive spiritual service. It is not enough to do nothing. One is not justified in substituting home reading for sacrament meetings.

The Savior said that the Sabbath was for man and not man for the Sabbath. The Sabbath is for man to obey and in which to find profit but not to break or desecrate. The Savior repeatedly insists upon the hallowing of the Sabbath day. He recognized the fact that livestock must be loosed from the stall and taken to water and fed and that other chores must be done. He recognized also that the ox might get into the mire or the ass fall into the pit; but neither in the letter nor in the spirit did he ever approve the use of the Sabbath for ordinary and regular work or for amusements and play. He healed the sick on the Sabbath, preached in the synagogues on this day, but he gave the Sabbath not for amusement and labor but for rest to the mind and body, change and relaxation from heavy service, and leisure for works of mercy. The observance of the Sabbath is a part of the new covenant. (64-01)

We encourage a thoughtful and prayerful review of the suggestions the Brethren have felt to approve for your consideration in planning Sabbath, home evening, and other weekly activities in our homes:

"As we plan our Sunday activities, we may want to set aside time for our family to be together, for personal study and meditation, and for service to others. We might want to read the scriptures, conference reports, and Church publications; study the lives and teachings of the prophets; prepare Church lessons and other Church assignments; write in journals; pray and meditate; write to or visit relatives and friends; write to missionaries; enjoy uplifting music; have family gospel instruction; hold family council meetings; build husband—wife relationships; read with a child; do genealogical research, including the four-generation program and family or personal histories; sing Church hymns; read uplifting literature; develop our appreciation for the cultural arts; plan family home evening study and activities; plan other family activities; friendship nonmembers; fellowship neighbors; visit the sick, the aged, and the lonely; hold interviews with family members…. " (82-01)

God encourages man to seek the spirit of the Sabbath. To many, Sabbath breaking is a matter of little moment, but to our Heavenly Father it is one of the principal commandments. It is a test to "see if we will do all things" commanded. ...

In the early days of Israel specific injunctions were given, and the death penalty was imposed for violation. Perhaps this was the only way that these former slaves could be taught the law of obedience and be brought to an understanding of the commandments of the Lord. Rabbis and priests made mockery of the commands by carrying them to unwarranted extremes in which a knot could not be tied nor loosed; a fire could not be kindled nor extinguished; a broken bone could not be set; a dead body could not be moved from wreckage; a bed could not be moved; sticks could not be gathered. And it was against these excesses that the Savior lashed rather than the Sabbath day itself, for he who instituted the Sabbath had greatest respect for it….

It would appear that the reason the Sabbath day is so hard to live for so many people is that it is still written on tablets of stone rather than being written in their hearts….

In the days of weak Israel it seemed necessary for the Lord to specify the many things which people must not do on the Sabbath but in our own day it would seem that he recognized the intelligence of his people, and assumed that they would catch the total spirit of worship and of the Sabbath observance when he said to them: "Thou shalt offer a sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in righteousness, even that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit." (D&C 59:8.)

And then he gave us the first and great commandment: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." (Matthew 22:37.)

It is unthinkable that one who loves the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and who with a broken heart and contrite spirit recognizes the limitless gifts which the Lord had given him would fail to spend one day in seven in gratitude and thankfulness, and carrying forward the good works of the Lord. The observance of the Sabbath is an indication of the measure of our love for our Heavenly Father.

In the U.S. the second Sunday of May is set apart to honor our mothers; the Fourth of July to memorialize our independence; everywhere family members have their birthdays. How thoughtless and inconsiderate would one be thought who would ignore loved ones' birthdays or who would pay no attention to Mother's Day. How disloyal for one to forget the birthday of the nation or to ignore election day. And yet, one day in seven has been set apart to remember the Lord, as the Sabbath day—a day for rest, for doing good, for service, for spiritual regeneration, for worship of God. Greedy business fills its store windows with Mother's and Father's Day cards, with Halloween wares and valentines, with birthday remembrances, and with Christmas gifts, but how often does it lend its windows to the encouragement of Sabbath honoring? (64-01)

(See Daily Living home page; Teachings About the Sabbath home page)



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The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.215-8
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