When he walks in the room, Reverend Tony Yeo might look familiar, bearing some resemblance to Jackie Chan or Eric Quizon.
Pastor Tony is one of the two Senior Pastors at Covenant Evangelical Free Church of Singapore (CEFC). His passion for leadership development through discipleship and mentoring have resulted in over thirty years of proven pastoral leadership.
On one of his visits to the shop when my dear friend, Nanette Co, took him and his wife, Mei, for lunch, Ptr. Tony graciously shared upon my request a little message about my question in mind on the Sabbath Day.
He shared about being legalistic, that is: keeping the letter of the law (doing the right things according to the law but not having the presence of God) but rather, keeping the Spirit of the law (focusing on God and His purpose behind having a rest day every week).
“Sabbath is not the absence of work but the presence of God. It’s what you do on your Sabbath like taking time to go to church on Sunday… and then as you take your time, what you do the rest of the day. It’s not going to church and spending the whole day in church but God is still absent in your life…so taking time just to maybe find extended time with God
Three things I do on my Sabbath day (3A’s):
- Take time to ADORE THE MASTER. God, You are the Creator. I’m only a creature. And as a creation of God, I am not a robot. I’m not X-Cop/ Robocop that can work everyday; I need time to rest. Just like God says six days He worked and He rested on the seventh day. It’s not because God is tired but He took time to (enjoy) the creation. Everything He created was good.
- APPRECIATE LIFE. God, at my age (I’m 54), at this time of my life I can appreciate life that I’m still alive even though my father died when he was 35 (heart attack). I appreciate the life that God gives to me; I appreciate the opportunity that I could still work for God. I’m a pastor and I appreciate that God gave me that calling. Because not everybody can work today. Some are unwell physically. They’ve got health challenges so they’re not able to work. The fact that I’ve got work, two sons; our spouse, it helps me to appreciate the gift of life that God gives to me. Everyday is God’s gift to us. And how we live each day becomes our gift back to God.
- ASSESS OUR LIFE. Look at our life in totality as in general. How’s my life doing? How am I doing in my physical health? When was the last time I went for physical exercise? What was the number of calories I burned? Did I keep my 10,000 steps a day? How am I doing in my marriage with my wife? How am I doing with my parenting of my children? And so it’s just generally assessing our life. I think that’s helpful.. the basic frameworks to keep in mind what we do in our Sabbath… not just sitting doing nothing but taking time to Adore the Master, Appreciate our life, and Assess our life.
The Sabbath is not about being legalistic where we keep the letter of the law but not the Spirit of the Law… which is what Jesus said often to the Pharisees, “You guys are so uptight about.. ‘Oh Sabbath, we cannot lift up a man, we cannot reach out to somebody because Sabbath in the Jewish culture, we are not supposed to do any work.’ If you go to Holy Land, even the lift (elevator) cannot do the work… all the food is cold because there’s no chef who will work in hotels.. that’s being legalistic. But Jesus meant that we must keep the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law. So pastors’ day off could be on Monday and you cannot say “You didn’t observe your Sabbath.” That’s being legalistic when we harp on the letter of the law but not the Spirit of the law.”