A Guilt-Free Pass for Taking a Break from Work

Feeling overwhelmed by a demanding week? Perhaps work pressures or educational commitments have left you exhausted. Maybe physical labour or parenting duties have drained your energy, and you’re left cleaning crayon masterpieces off your walls.

Evenings and weekends offer little respite as chores pile up and work continues to encroach. Finding a moment to relax usually involves mindlessly staring at screens, whether it’s a TV on your wall or a smartphone in your hand.

If this resonates, it’s time to consider embracing the concept of the Sabbath!

Understanding the Sabbath

You may have heard of the Sabbath and dismissed it as outdated, irrelevant or challenging to adopt. But before you jump to conclusions, it’s worth exploring the historical and biblical context of the Sabbath. Contrary to common beliefs, the Sabbath is not solely for the Jewish community — it holds significance beyond that. It continues to be observed by millions of people around the world on the seventh day of the week, Saturday.

So let’s take a look at what the Bible has to say about the Sabbath. In the second book of the Bible, Exodus, we find clear guidance on honouring the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments:

“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy” (Exodus 20:8–11).

The idea of refraining from work can be a deterrent for many. However, the Sabbath serves as a pause button in our hectic lives. It’s a designated time to step away from the daily grind, shift focus and recalibrate. It’s a day to set aside the bustling routine of work and chores.

Admittedly, fully embracing the benefits of the Sabbath will likely require changes to our usual routines. It means stepping way from work, study, serious chores, shopping, intense sports and entertainment. It’s a shift from self-indulgence to quality time for a more meaningful purpose. But how do countless people worldwide attest to the benefits these prescribed limitations bring?

Positive Impact of Restrictions

It’s important to recognise that restrictions leading to greater good aren’t exclusive to the Sabbath. Just as we avoid excessive consumption of cakes for long-term health benefits, the Sabbath promotes rest for holistic wellbeing. We restrain spending to meet essential needs, drive on one side of the road for safety, and implement environmental regulations for a healthier planet. In sports, rules are in place to ensure safety and enhance enjoyment. Imagine a sport without any rules!

An apt analogy illustrating the blessing of restraint on the Sabbath is a date night. Would your date night be successful if you arrived late, checking work emails while watching TV? It makes sense to avoid distractions that hinder connection. Similarly, the Sabbath provides guidance on dedicating a day to rest and reconnection, shifting focus from everyday distractions to God, family and nature — without guilt.

Embracing Inner Peace 

How can you find peace in an entire 24-hour period of time (from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset) without progress on work, study or chores? Wouldn’t guilt creep in for neglecting responsibilities amidst life’s chaos?

Think about public holidays — how often do you feel guilty about skipping work or school on these designated days off? The guilt isn’t overpowering. You’ve been granted a guilt-free pass to disconnect from work. Similarly, the Sabbath grants us an excuse, sanctioned by God, to shield ourselves from work distractions for 24 hours.

God designed the Sabbath for a complete experience, not just a brief pause before resuming other tasks. It’s like leaving a family lunch before dessert is served, missing out on valuable conversation. When God invites us to dedicate a whole day to Him, free from distractions, it’s an incredible offer.

Initially, disconnecting from daily responsibilities might pose a challenge. Yet, with time, you’ll appreciate the rhythm and rejuvenation the Sabbath brings — benefits that transcend the ordinary!

Understanding the true impact of the Sabbath often requires direct experience. So why not give it a try for yourself and take the Sabbath Challenge.

The original version of this article appeared in Signs of the Times.