Messages from Young Adults

Sabbath ‘TO DO’ List

We all know that the Sabbath is one of the first indicators that SDA youth don’t make the cut for the “cool” crowd as early as elementary school days. There is often a focus on what can’t be done on the Sabbath. When someone approaches the issue, our answer to the question “What do you do on the Sabbath?” is almost always prefaced with “Well, I don’t [fill in the blank].” This template textbook answer automatically gives a weak and somewhat sour tasting impression of what Sabbath-keeping is really all about.

Not only does this focus on the infamous “Don’t List” depreciate the value of our Sabbath-keeping testimony, but also it places an unnecessary struggle on how to spend Sabbath afternoons when your parents are looking. I got a message from my little cousin the other day which prompted the writing of this post. She’s practically “grown up in the church” as they say, and yet she left what seemed to be silly question in my voicemail: “What can you do without breaking the Sabbath?” Before responding I had to investigate further by requesting an explanation on her Facebook wall. She responds with the following:

“umm well there isnt really anything more to it… its just that… what can be done without breaking it? as much as you understand… i mean i havent heard a real answer in… well, ever. no one really seems to know. we just pretend like we do and i cant do that anymore, i need to know. I kinda know… but i kinda dont… which basically means that i dont. thats not cool, if im for something i gotta know it. And so i need to know if its what im about and if so what does that mean. What can i do… not what cant i do, since everyone seems to know those… but what does that leave besides reading and singing… does it even really leave fellowship? because can there be conversation about mundane things? well noone really knows… and i refuse to play the part without know the role any longer.”

I hesistated before responding, because my cousin usually is the one schooling me on the top twenty topics found under the spiritual debate column. I started wondering about the question myself and even had to consult my dad and a friend. I don’t remember dreading the Sabbath. There were a few events that tugged on my heart as a teen that conflicted, but I knew the answer already. My experience has been, “if you doubt, do without” and for so many Sabbaths there was never a question of what to do, because there was often a hectic schedule prepared already. From Sabbath afternoons spent away at boarding school, to choir practices, AY, knocking on doors, workshops/lectures, and more I sometimes wanted to just not know. So the question posed as is, What can you do without breaking it? Well, here’s my response copied and pasted:

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Cor. 10:31. If you are walking in the Spirit, you’ll know what to do. The answer you are looking for, you’ll never find by asking someone else. Just ask Him. -That’s the short answer.

Next time you are confronted with the Sabbath question, I would encourage you to think of your “To Do” list as opposed to the old “Don’t List.” Because Sabbath is more about what we make of it, than what we trade for it. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). So I rest with Him, fellowship with Him, read about Him, love on Him, and worship Him. What’s on your “To Do” list this Sabbath?


  • Dana said:

    well, nice blog, but I am not sure I understand your answer. what is to rest on Him, love Him, for xample? are all these things in the last paragraph more than reading and singing, and doing workshops and knocking doors?
    I want to be sincere, I love G-d and I want to observe the Sabbath correctly, but i think that the answer is quite complex…
    what I do is tomake the “Don’t List” and do the rest… when I am asked what I do on sabbath, I actually tell them what I do on Sabbath, not what I don’t. I have found it easier to make the Don’t List, and then do all the rest that the list excludes. for example, we are not supposed to talk about mundane things. I believe this refers to business, work, school, etc. but what about nice memories? what about particular experiences?
    something that is very true too is that many times we are so busy on sabbath that we end up so tired… is this supposed to be so? what does EGW says about that? I believe that Sabbath afternoon is a perfect opportunity to rest. some people consider resting by going to the hospital to do missionary work (my mom), others consider resting going out to nature as a family and/or friends, carrying with us a religious book &/or the Bible, and thus resting in the L-rd reading, talking about the subject, but also being in nature. whatever rest means to a person, it is good to do on Sabbath as long as it refreshes the soul and increase our faith and reafirm our belief. I dont want to appear as judjing, but i believe that sleeping on a Saturday afternoon is not resting IN the L-rd, but rather resting FROM the L-rd, which sould NEVER be… does sleeping reafirm your belief? how does it connect you to Jesus?
    well, enough said, I would like to hear comments, and what is the Do List for Sabbaths…. G-d bless

  • Maurice Smith said:

    The question is simple and that is what makes it so hard to answer. The “Sabbath” is misunderstood because we have separated it from the rest of the week. So there is real life, Sunday to Friday and then there is the Sabbath, this is the beginning of error.

    If a person lives like this. then there is always going to be trouble “keeping the Sabbath”. Everyday, every minute is to be lived for God. Hebrews 3 tells us that we are to “enter into His rest” speaking of Jesus and the finished work of salvation. We are never outside of that rest
    because we are always in the presence of God. To understand the sabbath read Isaiah 58, it tell what a Christian should look like.

    So if you live as being in the presence of God 24/7 then you will not be doing anything during the week that is displeasing to God, so on the Sabbath that behavior will naturally continue. Then we will understand that the
    Sabbath is not a change in behavior but a more intense concentrated fellowship with the One who we have been walking all week long, removing all things that distracts from Him. In the week, work, school and play interupts
    (not severe) our fellowship but on the Sabbath there should be no interuption because its all about Him.

    Yes, sleeping away the sabbath is a SIN….. there is only one reason for sleeping when not tired and that is to relieve pain. For some of us the Sabbath is very painful because it is unnatural to us and stops us from
    doing what we really want to be doing, so we sleep.

    I have a problem with the Sabbath. the problem is that it is too short and I can’t get in everything that I would like to. But that is in stalk contrast to a few years ago before my conversion, when the Sabbath was painfully long
    and boring. How did it change? I am not sure, but it did start with daily reading the bible and on Sabbaths interacting with people who are seeking
    after reighteousness. Note that I said people who are seeking, it is hard to find people who have understanding but it is relatively easy to find those who are seeking, and so the journey will be shared and enjoyed.

    Pray that God will give you a body of true believers to spend Sabbaths with. It might be that at first the group will just study or talk, but in time God will raise the group up and declare that it is time to DO his work. The rest
    of Sabbath is a departure for our work and and an entry into His work.

    God is found (and fond) of those who seek.

  • Janice A. Becca said:

    All I have to add to the above is…

    1. Can’t come up with an absolute list. I think this might be considered a borderline legalist approach. If you have the right attitude and understand the fundamental principle behind keeping the Sabbath, as you grow and come to understand what it is to be like Christ…what you do on the Sabbath will be in tune with the commandment. Focusing our minds and hearts on His objective/agenda first is key.

    2. God rested, the Sabbath is 24 hours, and so is the suggestion that we don’t sleep at all? Physical rest is not condemned in the commandment as far as I can see. I personally do not feel comfortable sleeping for hours on Sabbath afternoons when I could use that time as an opportunity for fellowship, outreach, personal study, etc. However, I believe that the act of sleeping in itself is not a sin. Again where our hearts are, is fundamental to determining whether this simple act is a sin or not

    3. The main thing about the Sabbath is to keep it “Holy”…which to me, means that our focus should be “What is Holy?” I would hesitate before posting the Ultimatum on acceptable Sabbath activities to answer that question. I believe it is more of a state of mind in which I behavior follows suit.

    4. If anyone is still looking for that list, I found this little handout by the Review and Herald this past weekend and it’s been reprinted online at the following link: The best thing to do is seek the answers in the scriptures. These are just a few to get started.

  • Brother winston said:

    My my… what a stir… and with great joy tpw (the present writer) read what Maurice Smith said.

    This brother has clearly started the path of understanding the sabbath… and from what he wrote… is learning the joy of it…

    Additional light might be found in even deeper “preperation of/for” the SABBATH, if one seeking would take some further steps as follows:

    1. Like a garden being prepared for the planting… we may ‘prepare’ our hearts by addressing each day as HE commanded by example in Gen.1-3 “…the evening (note which order the “day of creation is”) and the morning, were the first day.” ….second ect. etc.
    As the saviour prayed that we be “in the world” but not “of the world. As committed to rightousness, we will continue from the point of informed understanding, each day of each week by addressing for our own personal circle of influence, the beginning of the new day at eveing when there are “2 witnesses” in the heavens by HIS clock. NOT the clock of mans devising – Not the clock of “sun worship” – thus our thoughts are on HIS standard of wholness (holiness) at the first of each new day… we are there “looking/seeking this “rest/new day thoughts” as it begins.
    2. In the following verse:
    Exo 23:13 And in all3605 things that834 I have said559 unto413 you be circumspect:8104 and make no mention2142, 3808 of the name8034 of other312 gods,430 neither3808 let it be heard8085 out of5921 thy mouth.6310

    Circumspect!! this word means “very particular”… carfull, poignant! (so HE has emphasised HIS will concerning our using all these pagan names in our conversation… NEVER are we to do so.. and claim to want to obey!! JOY….

    We are all too familiar with the pagan god’s names of each day. WE know!!!! where the name of the 1st day came from, so why would those whom seek rightousness (right doing/doing right) so boldly and without regard to HIS express commands of (make no mention2142, 3808 of the name8034 of other312 gods,430 neither3808 let it be heard8085 out of5921 thy mouth.6310 ????)
    (this is deep and hope the readers can keep up as they pray for understanding of these delighfull doors of understanding, as they are opening before them, as they “seek” to walk in HIS light)
    … so now we are building a deeper understanding of HIS rest by not even dwelling “OF THIS WORLD”… while dwelling IN this world… are we tracking here brothers and sisters?… our minds/hearts are looking forward to the next sabbath (a shadow of HIS rest) every day, from the1st to the 6th… then as the brother says, we enjoy the “special” “blessed the sabbath day and sanctified it”… with such un
    utterable joy!!!

    NOW in review of what was said above:
    The command is “remember” that we all quote so fluently!!!
    1 we remember by thinking and addressing each day as HE did at the beginning of the day (HIS mind in us to will and do HIS good pleasure) by not walking in our thoughts and addressing that day as if we were worldly. 1st 2nd 3rd etc. so our peace (Isa 26:3) can begin by “keeping our mind stayed upon HIM”>>> JOY….
    2 every time we address the day as HE commanded, we provoke inquiry (the way the saviour taught) from the one listening to our words…. and when a person askes a Q… their learning switch is then on and receptive to the ANSWER… u c?…
    (when tpw addresses the day as a number, for a time now, the compelling of my soul shows kindness for their ignorance and offers them the opportunity to trade that ignorance for understanding and some times… tpw uses the pagan name of the day as a “foot note”… But while this is going on… in our conversation, they are full of wonder as they hear/see rightousness right there in their presence. Rightousness born of a humble and contrite spirit and of a “teacher”… that loves them and wants them to seek rightousness right along beside us/them!!! This type of lifestyle puts the one “leading” in this conversation in command of that converstation and leaves no doubt as to where we stand… leaves no room for frivious jokes or wrong-filled conversation… and yet it is a plesant conversation, and kind, and loving, and demonstrates that you/we are seeking patience and are willing to take the time to teach… (prepare/water/plant) their soul for things do not even understant that they need to know….!! what joy…. )
    3. as the week progresses, IF WE ESTABLISH these principles of habbit now!! while we have freedom to do so, our own characters will be built upon the ROCK and one more “brick” will be in place for heavenly garner…

    SOP quote: “… the first day in Heaven will not be that much different then the last day on earth for the 144000…”

    U think about that…
    aservant (winston/linda)

  • babie said:

    Well i would like to quote a few things regarding on how to spend the sabbath afternoon.I read this book called “Ten Commandments Twice Removed.” And in the last chapters it gave a brief idea and tips on how to spend the sabbath in a very nice way.It starts with the preparation throughout the week,the preparation day,and from sunset to sabbath morning,afternoon and sundown…since the topic here is mainly the sabbath afternoon, i’l jot down a few ideas written here.

    1.Celebrate God’s creation: Take a nature walk,country drive, bird watching,rowing on a lake etc.

    2.Celebrate God’s gift of music: Have a song fest,sit down on a piano..

    3.Celebrate God’s mercy: Visit orphanages,etc.

    4.Celebrate God’s word: have a bible study with a friend.

    5.Celebrate God’s rest: take a nap! read a good christian book.

    6.Celebrate the family.

    And after this, i guess you will have a lot of things on your mind too…

    As for me, i have a lot to do on sabbath afternoons, friday nights are tougher for me.

  • Destiny said:

    SDAs aren’t the only ones that keep the sabbath, as a matter of fact there are MANY MANY people with religious views that keep the Sabbath. There is a congregation of the Church of God who are Sabbath keepers. The bible also states clearly about clean and unclean meats, holidays and their pagan origins. Here are some verses where it clearly refers to the Christmas tree in the bible:

    See some of these following verses in your bible:

    Deuteronomy 12:31 &; 20:8 Exodus 34:10-17 and Deuteronomy 12-32, Jeremiah 10:2,3,& 5 clearly says God does not want us to take part in heathen traditions. Many people think some people don’t celebrate holidays because they are a scrooge or they don’t believe Jesus was born on that date,the word Christ in Christmas has been taped over the real name and truth and fools many,most holidays are a pagan traditions. Pagans used humans as sacrifices and hung human skulls on the tree. Don’t you ever wonder why trees are brought into the house on X-mas day? Well, the pagan made this up as they decorated trees with berries and humans skulls. It was a day to give sacrifices and also a day to spend money and be ripped off. Would Jesus want us to put his face and name over a pagan evil tradition? Think deeply about this.

  • Lex said:

    A professor of mine once had a 4-question check for certain dubious Sabbath activities (like, er, swimming?). I confess I only recall three of them, but I thought I should share them nonetheless:

    1. Does this activity bring me closer to God?
    2. Is this activity holy?
    3. Does this activity bring me joy?

    1/// If it doesn’t bring you closer to God, but it’s something you should do (like going to church), ask God to change your attitude. If it doesn’t bring you closer to God, and it’s something you would be uncomfortable telling Jesus about, quick! Stop. And go do something with God instead.

    2/// If it does bring you closer to God, the follow-up question should be: is this holy? We might rationalize certain activities by saying, “Oh, well, this show makes me laugh. God loves laughter, of course this show brings me closer to Him!” That defense is decimated if we consider how “holy” our actions are. Holy does not just mean “pure;” it also means fundamentally different. If it’s something we unthinkingly do every day of the week, chances are it’s neither holy nor bringing us closer to God.

    3/// Admittedly, we might ask these questions out of order, so long as we ask them all. If an activity brings you joy (not just pleasure, not just amusement, but joy) yet somehow doesn’t bring you closer to God — leave it for another time. Or better yet: leave it alone altogether for a little while. You don’t want to be longing for earthly pleasures in heaven. Now if this activity brings you closer to God and *is* holy, there should be no problem! It should definitely bring you joy. If it doesn’t, ask God for forgiveness (if it is guilt that is bringing you down) or for a change of attitude (if it is a sour or unwilling attitude that is bringing you down).

    But consider: God made the Sabbath for man, not man for the Sabbath. And He didn’t make it just for literal rest but also that we might spend it abiding in His glory. The first man and woman were barely 24 hours old when they celebrated the first Sabbath. They certainly weren’t tired. He wants us to enjoy the Sabbath, not sleep or drag our feet through it! The Sabbath is a celebration. So if it an activity is not bringing you joy, be very certain it’s something God wants you to endure.

    Remember: when you don’t want to do something, dig deeper and do it all the more earnestly. God is sure to reward our efforts. And don’t waste time beating yourself up if you make an honest mistake. Repent, get up, and continue walking with God.


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