The Sabbath Day is central to our understanding of time; it’s where we get the concept of a 7-day week. The very first thing God tells us He did as He ceased creating is bless the seventh day (Ge 2:2-3), and we’ve been keeping time by it ever since. He didn’t do this just for Jews, but as a blessing for us all. (Mk 2:27)
It’s a blessing to rest from our work every Sabbath, to slow down, take time to notice, to be still. It’s a time to commune with others, to focus, re-calibrate and rejuvenate. It’s a rhythm God has given us, and it’s good for us to get into it.
Yet it isn’t only about rest; the essence of the sabbath command is to remember it (Ex 20:7): to not forget God rested from His creative work on a Saturday, and to keep each weekly anniversary of Creation in mind as part of the fabric of our existence. It’s a way to stay in sync with God, to glorify Him as God (Ro 1:21), to abide in Him, to constantly remember our Almighty Creator: He has made each of us individually with His hands (Ps 119:73), and every single day uniquely since (Ps 118:24); this is all the work of His hands. (Ps 95:5, Ps 102:25)
However, God doesn’t say the Sabbath is more important or more valuable than workdays, just that we’re to set it aside, to purpose to live differently within it. It isn’t necessarily wrong for us to esteem Sabbath above workdays; it’s natural to focus more on God when we aren’t distracted as much by worldly cares, and enjoying such times is incredibly important. But it’s also reasonable to esteem workdays to be of equal importance, or even more important than Sabbath, if we worship God every day and value work more than rest.
We may all have an opinion, even a strong one (Ro 14:5), yet this is between us and God. (6a) Since God is silent on the matter, and hasn’t made Saturdays noticeably different than other days, we shouldn’t be dogmatic or concerned for those who hold a different view.
There are those who leverage this concept, as Paul expresses it in Romans 14, to dismiss Sabbath altogether, claiming we can now pick any day we like for sabbath, or treat every day alike and ignore sabbath. These folk generally also claim we can now dismiss God’s dietary laws and eat anything we like (Ro 14:2), not making any distinction in our diet. (14)
Yet those who teach this way are missing the whole point of the context: which is receiving those who are weak in the faith. (Ro 14:1) Paul isn’t dismissing any part of the divine standard and encouraging us all to wing it, he’s teaching us to be accommodating with those who are of differing opinions on matters where God is silent, especially those who are intimidated by culture, tradition and superficial appearances, who aren’t fully grounded in the precepts of God. (13)
And this is the general pattern of love; where God has spoken clearly we’re to be committed to persuading others as well as we can (Ti 1:9), earnestly defending the faith (Ju 3), compassionate and concerned (2Ti 2:24-26), seeking to restore those who have fallen (Ga 6:1), and in matters of preference we’re to be gracious, peaceful and tolerant. (Ro 14:19)
3 thoughts on “Every Day Alike”
I notice that Sunday isn’t part of the “weekend”, or end of the week. It’s the first day of the week, and it’s a workday.
It may also be that Paul isn’t actually referring to sabbath in his exhortation in Romans 14, but to how people rank the biblical feasts in importance. For example, it’s common today for Jews to revere the Day of Atonement as the holiest day of the year, but this is simply religious tradition; God doesn’t say it is more holy than other days. Such traditions aren’t wrong, but they should not be imposed dogmatically on others.
Also, in addressing dietary concerns in this text, Paul is evidently referring to a common issue plaguing the early church: whether it was permissible to eat meat since much of it had been dedicated to idols. Paul’s official stance, from a technical point of view, is that it really doesn’t matter. (1Co 8) But when a person can’t participate in a feast with a clean conscience, they need to abstain, and if our participation encourages people to participate in activities which violate their conscience we should also abstain.