I am what my friends have deemed an ambivert: a perfect 50/50 split between an introvert and an extrovert. This was confirmed with a personality test, as my friends became obsessed with them during quarantine. Of course, given the results, it was almost a guarantee that quarantine would be easy for me. After all, this halfway introvert has more than enough books on her bookshelf to survive for quite a while. But in our society of go, go, go, being forced to stop, even for introverts, can give feelings of anxiety, nervousness, or unproductivity. Still, working seven days a week isn’t natural. Even God did not work seven days a week: after a long six days of laboring, He rested.
The Third Commandment and Rest
The Third Commandment reminds Christians to stop … rest … relax. It states: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” That doesn’t mean to stop everything but to set aside regular time for God’s Word. In Provoking Proverbs, a new Bible study exploring the Book of Proverbs in relation to the Ten Commandments, author David Coe speaks on how we should rest—vocation and vacation, labor and leisure—as he discusses the Third Commandment.
If keeping the First Commandment is fearing, loving, and trusting in God with your heart, and keeping the Second Commandment is fearing, loving, and trusting in God with your lips, then keeping the Third Commandment is fearing, loving, and trusting in God with your ears. Luther teaches that the Third Commandment is a gift of time given by God (1) for rest and refreshment after a week of work and (2) for hearing and learning God’s Word.
Rest as a Time for Study
David Coe reflects on the fact that this rest hadn’t always been viewed as time to spend binge watching your favorite show for the thirteenth time or lying around in bed doing nothing. In fact, this rest used to be the only time laborers had the leisure to study:
The ancients recognized rest as the liberty to pursue wisdom, specifically the liberal arts … arts that can be pursued only when one is free from manual labor. … In the Third Commandment, God gives us rest so He can go to work refreshing us and teaching us wisdom, specifically the wisdom of His Word.
God Gave His Creation Time
Not only does the Third Commandment ask us to rest in God’s Word regularly but it also reminds us to humble ourselves before God. David Coe put it perfectly:
The Third Commandment commands us to put first things first. We want to be people of integrity. … When the going gets tough, the tough get going. But if I think I’m tough and have integrity, Jesus pokes and provokes, “The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Keeping the Third Commandment means humbling ourselves to God’s work on us through His Word and Sacraments to integrate our head, heart, and hands (John 14:26).
Extra Time for His Word
There are many parts of this pandemic that have felt like a curse, like Satan trying to take us away from our church and our faith. But maybe, just maybe, God was blessing us all by giving us the time to rest and replenish our souls with His Word. We were immediately told to stay inside, giving us ample time with our family members to spend reflecting on Him.
Those twenty minutes you normally drove up the highway to work were converted to free time: plenty of time to sink into a devotion. Your children didn’t have so many extracurriculars to go to, letting your family have more time together with Him. Friends weren’t beckoning you to come out for dinner or weekend activities, freeing your schedule to finish that Bible study or commentary. Our labors and vocations that were calling us for the week were paused, put on temporary holds, allowing us the leisure and vacation to practice the faith more.
So what have you been doing during this quarantine? Have you tried to fill your time with lots of things that don’t matter in the end? Or are you spending the extra time thanking God for it, humbling yourself under Him and resting, replenishing your soul in His Word? If you haven’t been spending it with Christ, there’s always opportunity to start now. Remember the Third Commandment, and remind yourself that it’s okay to pause for a while, to sit back and remember your Creator and thank Him for giving you extra time to spend with His Word this year.
Quoted passages taken from Provoking Proverbs: Wisdom and the Ten Commandments copyright © 2020 David Coe. Published by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Click the button below to see more of David Coe’s insights into the Book of Proverbs and its relation to the Ten Commandments in Provoking Proverbs: Wisdom and the Ten Commandments.