Why You Shouldn’t Have a List of Dos and Don’ts for the Sabbath

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In his April 2015 conference talk, “The Sabbath Is a Delight,” President Russell M. Nelson asks us to make some changes in our lives. Specifically, he asks us to think about our feelings and behavior on the Sabbath Day. President Nelson quotes the prophet Isaiah who counsels that we should “call the sabbath a delight.”

President Nelson relays a personal story in which he first recognized delight in the Sabbath and found relief from his everyday burdens including his demanding profession as a heart surgeon.

President Nelson“I first found delight in the Sabbath many years ago when, as a busy surgeon, I knew that the Sabbath became a day for personal healing. By the end of each week, my hands were sore from repeatedly scrubbing them with soap, water, and a bristle brush. I also needed a breather from the burden of a demanding profession. Sunday provided much-needed relief.

What did the Savior mean when He said that “the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27)? I believe He wanted us to understand that the Sabbath was His gift to us, granting real respite from the rigors of daily life and an opportunity for spiritual and physical renewal. God gave us this special day, not for amusement or daily labor but for a rest from duty, with physical and spiritual relief.”

In Hebrew the word Sabbath means “rest,” yet how do we hallow the Sabbath day? Do we need a list of dos and don’ts for the Sabbath day? President Nelson says we shouldn’t – He says that:

“when I had to make a decision whether or not an activity was appropriate for the Sabbath, I simply asked myself, “What sign do I want to give to God?” That question made my choices about the Sabbath day crystal clear.”

President Nelson reiterates that “the fulness of the earth is promised to those who keep the Sabbath day holy.” He quotes Doctrine and Covenants 59:

“That thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;

For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High…

And on this day… let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect,… that thy joy may be full… And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances,… the fulness of the earth is yours.”

What an interesting concept, to keep the Sabbath day holy with thanksgiving and with cheerful hearts! President Nelson gives examples of strengthening family ties through quality family time, teaching the gospel to our children, studying the gospel, doing family history work, and rendering service to others.

He again quotes Isaiah 58 by stating that Isaiah, even in ancient times, taught us how to make the Sabbath a delight. The following scriptures in Isaiah are his reference:

13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

President Nelson finishes his talk by stating that “not pursuing your “own pleasure” on the Sabbath requires self-discipline. You may have to deny yourself of something you might like. If you choose to delight yourself in the Lord, you will not permit yourself to treat it as any other day. Routine and recreational activities can be done some other time.

Faith in God engenders a love for the Sabbath; faith in the Sabbath engenders a love for God. A sacred Sabbath truly is a delight.”

To read his entire talk go HERE

If you missed our video series about the blessings and risks of fasting go HERE

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Here’s me in a nutshell - a returned missionary, a newlywed, currently attending BYU in the Accounting program, and trying to understand Isaiah. To me, Isaiah is an untouched treasure chest; hopefully we’ll find the map, learn to read it, and open that chest together.

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