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Hello everyone! What are some of your favorite things to do on Sabbath? I like to watch nature shows, listen to music, and read! :)

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Do you think itís wrong to be involved in water sports or water activities on Sabbath?

Steve Answers:

It’s easy for some people to categorize Sabbath activities into a quicklist of “OK” and “Not OK”—something like this:
It’s easy for some people to categorize Sabbath activitiesinto a quick list of "OK" and "Not OK"-something like this:

OK:Not OK:

Go to churchGo shopping

Sing religious tunes Sing secular tunes

Listen to violin stringsListen to guitar strings

Take a walkTake a job

Go hikingGo scuba diving

Reenact NoahPlay water polo

Read your BibleRead war stories

Give Bible studiesClean up a person’s yard

Eat a huge mealEat in a restaurant

While growing up Seventh-day Adventist, whenever I askedpeople about specific Sabbath activities, they’d say either "Yes" or "No." If I asked, "Why?" They"d say, "It’s a good thing to do," if they’d answered yes. But if they’d answered no, they’d say, "Because it’s Sabbath."

In general I figured out that any activities having to do with play were considered bad for Sabbath. Even so, my friends and I used to take simple games like tag and make them OK for Sabbath by saying a Bible name each time we tagged somebody. We did the same thing with basketball, by saying a Bible name whenever the ball went through the hoop. On a more advanced level we’d have to say an entire Bible verse. In a pinch I always used John 11:35:"Jesus wept."

It seemed as though my friends and I faced the dilemma of either honoring the Sabbath or enjoying it. But does it have to be one or the other?

Some people just want to do their own thing. As naturallyselfish people, we need to be transformed by God so that we develop the desires and tastes He wants for us (see 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Romans 12:1, 2). When it comes to Sabbath activities, this means we do things on Sabbath that Goddesires us to do rather than the things we want to do.

So what are the things God wants us to do? After telling usto "remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy [special]," He basically says, "Don’t work" (see Exodus 20:8-11). Most young people I know would heartily endorse that for Sabbath (and for other days, too).

But instead of narrowly focusing on the word "work," thinkof the concept or meaning: Sabbath is different from other days, so don’t do what you do all the other days. If you’re a student, cut out school and studying on Sabbath. But the reason to do it isn’t to obey a set of rules; it’s to improve your relationship with God. God’s always available, but you’re often busy with lots of other things. So reserve a full 24 hours each seven days (anew meaning for 24-7) to improve your relationship with God.

If that’s your focus, then ask your question about doing water activities on Sabbath. If it doesn’t improve your relationship with God, don’t do it. If it does, then do it! You might not know until you give it a try!

God didn’t give us a list of "OK" and "Not OK" Sabbath activities, and I think it can be dangerous when we create one (such as the one at the beginning of this column). My advice to you is to experiment to discover which activities do the most to improve your relationship with Christ. Then fill your Sabbath with those things.

Some religious leaders accused Jesus of not keeping theSabbath the right way. His answer provides a good guide for determining whether or not an activity is a good one for Sabbath. Jesus said, "It is lawful [OK] to do good things on the Sabbath day" (Matthew 12:12, NCV).

*Scriptures credited to NCV are quoted from The Holy Bible,New Century Version, copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Word Publishing, Dallas, Texas 75039. Used by permission.

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