What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the phrase, “…settle for less?”
Perhaps you think of accepting a lesser quality item… or job… or spouse. Or perhaps you think of not realizing your full potential… giving up on that dream you had when life was fresh and the sky was the limit.
But have you ever wondered what God thinks about settling for less? Or more importantly, how God intends to keep us from settling for less?
His plan for more actually starts with less:
“Tell the people of Israel: ‘Be careful to keep my Sabbath day, for the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between me and you from generation to generation. It is given so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.” (Ex 31:13 NLT)
Let’s take a look at that last phrase, and then determine how we might settle for more!
I Am The Lord
How could taking time off help us to know that God is the Lord?
I get a glimpse of this when it comes to the idea of tithing. In the Old Testament, people would give their first and their best in sacrifices.
What’s the point of wasting the best? Especially if we’re talking the first crops of the harvest… wouldn’t people NEED that food?
It’s not about need… it’s about trust.
- Do you trust God to provide more where that came from?
- Do you trust that God is always your provider?
If so, you have no problems giving your first and your best… you know there will be enough for now, and more to follow.
But there’s an interesting twist when it comes to giving your first and best time (a Sabbath), because nothing is quite so precious as time. Think about this:
- Sacrifice? You can make more animals/crops
- Tithe? You can make more money… but,
- Time? You can’t make more time!
Giving God your first and best time requires a whole new level of trust, especially for crazy busy people!
And yet… time is exactly what God asks for. Why would God want something so valuable?
…Who Makes You Holy
Before we can understand God’s actions and requests, we need to understand what it means to be holy. Most common Bible Dictionaries will say to be holy means to be “set apart.” But if we stop there, we get an incomplete understanding of God’s purposes in making us holy.
If we’re merely “set apart,” we:
- Avoid contact with others
- May think ourselves morally superior (I’ve got God… how about you?)
- Have no impact on the world around us
I think a better understanding of being made holy is to be “set apart for God’s use.” Yes, there are expectations of moral behavior… yes, our lives should look different than others simply living in this world… but for what purpose?
When we’re set apart for God’s use, we:
- Serve others
- Share God
- Impact the world by loving neighbor as ourselves
But what does any of this have to do with devoting time to a Sabbath?
Let me ask, how can we know God’s purposes if we don’t spend time listening? How can we be set apart for God’s uses if we’re constantly engaged in this world 24/7?
But perhaps the most fundamental question is, “Why should we want to be set aside for God’s purposes?”
How to Settle for More
… and the short answer is, “Because God wants the best for us.” But too often we settle for less.
What if the best isn’t a constant drive to accumulate more… newer… faster? What if the best isn’t that new car… or new boat… new spouse… new job?
What if, instead of more, more, more, we found contentment?
What if, instead of go, go, go, we found peace?
Setting aside a regular Sabbath teaches us to slow down and get closer to God… close enough to begin to see how we might make a difference in our lives, and the lives of others.
Yet, when I ask people the most common reasons they don’t take a Sabbath, the standard responses are either, “I dont’ have time,” or, “I have too much to do.”
What I hear is, “I have to go, go, go…” and “I need more, more, more.”
Now, understandably, there are seasons in life where things are hectic. I’m not talking about seasons that come and go… I’m talking about lifestyle.
No one in their right mind would say, “I don’t want peace and contentment… I don’t want to know my purpose and find meaning.” And yet without taking the time for a Sabbath, these end results are too often predictable.
Maybe it’s just a couple of hours one day to start with, and we can work up to more (like any good lifestyle change). Maybe those few hours will begin to give us an inkling of what God intends to work in a Sabbath…
- a life set apart for something bigger that gives us meaning
- a deep sense of peace and contentment
- a lasting trust that calms our anxiety
All it takes is a little time… Sabbath time! Don’t settle for less!
How do you find time for Sabbath? What does your typical Sabbath look like in this day and age? What advice would you give to others who want to adopt a Sabbath lifestyle?
- “24/6: A prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life” a book by Dr. Matthew Sleeth
- If you don’t want to read the book above, you can also check out this interview regarding the major thoughts behind the book