Lou: Someone has asked a practical question: “I want to know how to keep the Sabbath. Several people go out to eat after church is over with. I understand that they may be going out to eat because they don’t want their wives to cook. Is that wrong because they are making people work for them on the Sabbath, or does that just mean that we are judging them? I’m confused.”
Graham: That question reminds me of what Paul said, “Let everyone be fully persuaded in his own mind,” and “Who are you to judge another? Each one of us shall give account of himself to God” (based on Rom 14:5, 10). This day is ours, you know. It was given to us. Sure, it’s the Lord’s Day, it’s a day to remember the Lord, but it’s His gift to us for our best good. If I don’t observe it in the best way possible, I just lose, that’s all. So that I must decide for myself. We have no business deciding for other people. We’ve no business criticizing. Before the Damascus road, Paul would have said, “Shame on you for doing something like that. I’ll haul you into prison and maybe have you stoned.” But after the Damascus road he said, “Let everyone be fully convinced in his own mind” (Rom 14:5).
I also think, though, that Sabbath-keeping not only says something to ourselves and to God; it also says something to the community, the people looking on. The way we keep Sabbath can speak well or otherwise of our God, and I think we need to weigh that. What do people think about when they watch us Sabbath keepers try to keep the seventh day holy? The last two hours before sundown the saints are all trying to get home on time, so in the grocery store everybody’s pressing to the front with their baskets full. On any other day in the week a Sabbath-keeper might courteously let somebody with less in the basket go ahead, but you can’t afford to be courteous on a Friday afternoon. You’re going to keep Sabbath, even if you’ve got to break the other nine commandments to do so!
A store clerk in Loma Linda once told my wife, “We are very puzzled. Just as it begins to get dark on Friday afternoon, there is a tremendous increase in business here. In the parking lot people are rushing to and fro. We even have to put on extra clerks for a while. And then just as we’re settling into the rush, all of a sudden most of them disappear.” And the store can’t plan on the rush each Friday because it seems to come at a different time. She knows the people are religious and wonders why. If we gave her an explanation, would we say, “You know why we hurry like that? Because if we don’t get home before the sun goes down, you can’t imagine what our God would do to us.” If some of us said what we were thinking, we would not be speaking very well of God. And by the way, if we do see somebody hurrying on Friday afternoon, we have no business judging their reasons. The beauty of this whole thing is, in the larger view, you do not feel moved to condemn other people. God doesn’t condemn. He just says, “I’m so sorry; you lose.”
Lou: You mentioned in the previous chapter how important motive is. For example, with health care work, one person might do Sabbath work in a hospital because they can “get away with it,” another might see it as following in the steps of Christ.
Graham: You can’t read other people’s motives on this.