Deeper meaning of Sabbath rest

February 8, 2013

Timothy Keller’s book on work, Every Good Endeavor, is excellent. He was the one who pointed me to the Tolkien short story that I discussed yesterday, and his book has informed my current sermon series on work and vocation, “Your Work Is Calling.”

I’m sure I’ll get around to this point in Sunday’s sermon, but in the meantime, I’ll include the following excerpt about Sabbath rest, which all of us should take to heart. Keller writes the following in the context of a discussion about the work that many of us do “under the work,” that hidden motivation for work that is a vain attempt to win “redemption” for ourselves: “If I do this good work, then I’ll be the person of worth that I so desperately want to be.” I mentioned my own struggle with this “work under the work” yesterday in my easily frustrated, sinful desire to accomplish significance for myself—which is also a part of Niggle’s frustration.

If our work is motivated by a misplaced desire like this we become slaves to our work—and probably workaholics (if not alcoholics!). Our faith in Christ should liberate us from this slavery. Sabbath rest itself becomes a sign of this liberation:

Sabbath is therefore a declaration of our freedom. It means you are not a slave—not to your culture’s expectations, your family’s hopes, your medical school’s demands, not even to your own insecurities. It is important that you learn to speak this truth to yourself with a note of triumph—otherwise you will feel guilty for taking time off, or you will be unable to truly unplug.[†]

Timothy Keller, Every Good Endeavor (New York: Dutton, 2012), 236.

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