Today’s devotional reading is Luke 6.
On the seventh day of the creation week the Bible tells us that God rested. This means that he ceased from the act of creating. It was unnecessary for him to “rest” in the sense of recovering and renewing his energy and strength because he is all-powerful. But he set aside a day to cease from labor and even set that day apart to teach us to rest.
Rest is about renewing yourself and spiritual renewal through worship is a key part of resting. By the time Jesus lived, however, the Sabbath had become more about what was forbidden than about the blessing of taking time off to rest your body and renew your spirit. That’s what Jesus faced here in Luke 6. The Pharisees were so legalistic about the Sabbath that they didn’t want anyone to do much of anything; even picking up a snack off the grain fields was sin in their minds (vv. 1-2). Likewise, they were miffed when Jesus healed a man; they should have been happy for him. He recovered the use of one of the most useful parts of his body. What better day to be renewed from an injury or a disability than the day God set aside for renewal?
As Jesus answered the objections of the legalists about the Sabbath, he both asserted his authority over the Sabbath day (v. 5) and reminded the people that the Sabbath is supposed to be about what is good not about putting people in bondage (v. 9). But the Pharisees measured a person’s spirituality based on how well he kept a long list of manmade rules, so Jesus’ actions on the Sabbath threatened their approach to spirituality.
This is an important thing to keep in mind whenever you encounter someone who thinks that pleasing God is about some manmade rule to measure spirituality. Who is more spiritual–a person who reads one verse a day or someone who reads one book of the Bible per day? If we measure by the sheer volume of material, the one who reads a whole book of the Bible each day is the truly spiritual person. But remember from James 1:22 that the person who merely reads the Bible without applying it is self-deceived. One verse–truly considered and applied–is far better than one book of the Bible read only to impress yourself, God, or someone else with how spiritual you are. God wants us to keep his commands but not so that we can impress others or oppress them by pointing out their failures or sub-standard performance compared to us. God does not give us his commands to judge our performance; he gives his commands to transform us. Whenever we judge others for their lack of performance, we are indicting ourselves as legalists. Don’t measure your walk with God by performance metrics; seek to walk with God, putting his words into practice out of love for him and a desire to grow (see verses 46-49 here in Luke 6).