Because of the emphasis Seventh-day Adventists put on the Sabbath commandment, some people may get the impression that we think it’s the greatest commandment.
Jesus said this about the greatest commandment:
If the entire law is based on these two commandments, what does the Sabbath commandment have to do with loving God and loving our neighbors?
You may have heard it said that the first 4 commandments address our relationship to God, and the last 6 address our relationship to others. Let's read the fourth commandment again:
The first part of the commandment is to rest on the seventh day because God’s rested on the seventh day after six days of creation. God is Love (1 John 4:8). When God creates, it's an act of Love. The Sabbath is a gift of Love when we receive it as God intended. It is a promise that you can:
Stop doing your work
Receive God’s Rest
The second part of the commandment is to give rest on the seventh day to the people and animals who work on our behalf—giving rest to our neighbors as God gives rest to us.
Do God’s work
Relieve others from doing your work
Give God’s Rest
But wait! There's more...
Jesus healed a man who couldn't walk. He told him to pick up his bed and walk. So, that's what the man did.
Because Jesus did this on Sabbath, Jewish religious leaders were angry. They had a rule about carrying one's bed on Sabbath. To them, that was work. They believed Jesus was encouraging disobedience to the Sabbath commandment.
God didn't command people to not carry their beds on Sabbath. God did say this:
Sabbath-keepers have often found it helpful to make rules about how to rest on Sabbath. Most of these rules are about how to avoid working. Often, these rules become a burden. It's hard to rest when you're carrying a burden. And how much more difficult is it for a person to call Sabbath a delight when they're weighed down by rules.
When the Jewish religious leaders confronted Jesus about telling the lame man to pick up his bed and carry it on Sabbath, Jesus said, "My Father is always working, and so am I."
Sabbath is God's busiest day of the week. What kind of work is God doing?
God is loving people. And that's the kind of work He calls us to do.
This is the kind of work that makes Sabbath a delight. It's more than giving rest to those who work for us. It's the work giving rest to those who are suffering from all kinds of burdens. It's the work of blessing, because we are blessed.
Receiving rest and giving rest.
That's what loving God and loving our neighbors looks like.