Q: What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment?
A: The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God's allowing us six days of the week for our own employments, his challenging a special priority in the seventh, his own example, and his blessing the sabbath day.
Exodus 31:17 It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.
The last statement of this week's catechism answer reminds us that the Sabbath day truly is a blessing from God. No doubt, many of us have seen what a true blessing it is. When we strive to set aside a day for holy rest, when we set aside a day to gather with God's people for worship, when we set aside a day to come under the teaching of the Word and the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we truly are blessed, both in our bodies and in our souls. We find physical and spiritual refreshment that prepares us and carries us through another week. Why wouldn't we want to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy?
But the catechism not only reminds us of the blessings that come with observing the Sabbath, the catechism also keeps the Sabbath day in perspective. God has asked of one day. Think of that. Just one day set aside to be fully devoted to him. The God of all creation, the Lord and Creator of life, the very author of our salvation, he has asked for one day a week to be set aside for him. Are we so ungrateful to him that we cannot even give him this one day? Out of his goodness and love for us and his creation, he gives us six days to work and labor, to concern ourselves with our "earthly" business (and even this is a gift from God!). And then, out of his abundant grace he gives us one full day of rest, and on that day, that ONE day, he asks us to set aside our worldly cares and devote our attention fully on him. Brothers and sisters, keeping the Sabbath day is not merely about participating in the blessing of the Sabbath, it is also about living a life of gratitude to God. If the Sabbath becomes a burden to us, if we begin to scorn it because we legalistically think about the day in terms of what we can or cannot do, if we refuse to even acknowledge that the Sabbath day is a day set apart by God himself, then we have a serious heart issue. God has not asked too much from us in setting aside one day of the week for him. Let us strive, whole heartedly, to keep the Sabbath, not out of guilt, not out of a feeble attempt to earn merit with God, not out of selfish motives, but rather out of endless gratitude and praise to our LORD God, who made us and gave himself for us.