The Bible is very specific on what should and should not be done on the Sabbath day. We know we are not to work on the Sabbath. But God also gives us specific instructions on what we should talk about on His Sabbath.
“Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord and that thought upon His name” (Malachi 3:16). This same verse is used to introduce the book Malachi’s Message. Those who fear God and are faithful enough to hold on to His true teachings will be written in a “book of remembrance.” However, that’s not all. True Philadelphians will also be characterized as those who speak “often one to another.”
How is our conversation on God’s Sabbath day? In coming before God on His Sabbath day, our fellowship first and foremost is with Him and His Son Jesus Christ. But a second, and also very important, aspect of Sabbath fellowship is that with the brethren. With this in mind, just what should be discussed on God’s Holy Sabbath?
Controlling Our Thoughts
When the Sabbath begins, we must first realize it is God’s day. God gave us six days to take care of our business and make a living. But the seventh day is God’s day. How can we expect to speak about the right things with our brethren if we haven’t first done so with our Creator? Take plenty of time, more than you do during the week, to pray fervently and to study and meditate on God’s law.
Notice what John wrote: “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). We can only have the right kind of Sabbath fellowship if we first fellowship with God and Christ in the right way.
Paul admonished us in 2 Corinthians 10:5 to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” This of course should be the way we strive to live every day of our lives. But on the Sabbath, when we are away from our jobs, school, or whatever else may require our time during the week, we should be even more diligent to apply this instruction.
What we say is merely an extension of our thoughts. We might be able to fool people for a while and appear righteous, but sooner or later, we will say what’s on our minds, or in our hearts. Notice what Jesus said in Matthew 12:35: “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” If we are thinking good thoughts, we will speak good thoughts. In verse 34, Jesus said, “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” Conversely, if we are thinking evil thoughts, we will speak evil words.
Since the Sabbath is God’s day, the topics for conversation should be centered around God and His plan. Isaiah gives us further understanding on what we should talk about. “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words” (Isaiah 58:13). Isaiah went on to say how much we would be blessed for properly doing that. Just as we are not supposed to work or seek our own pleasure on the Sabbath, neither are we to speak “our own words.” Several things that you might typically talk about during the week may not be appropriate on the Sabbath. Discussing our favorite basketball team or our next financial expenditure usually would be classed as “our own words.”
What then should we talk about? We who have been called out of this world have the privilege of being in God’s Church at one of the most exciting times ever. Much is happening today that is the direct fulfillment of Bible prophecy. The topics for inspiring Sabbath conversations are truly countless! Never before has God’s overall master plan been so clear as it is today. Our incredible human potential is indeed awesome and most inspiring to talk about. Discussing current events in light of Bible prophecy not only makes good conversation, it can also be very educational for those who may have missed some of the news events over the previous week. Philadelphia Church of God members are regularly updated on the miraculous growth this Work of God is experiencing. Discussing the fruits and progression of the Work is definitely appropriate, as is discussing the messages given that day.
Many times a year there are new and inspiring articles in the Philadelphia Trumpet and Royal Vision that provide topics for discussion.
With all Sabbath conversation, approach it in a positive manner and from God’s point of view. Instead of focusing on complaining about how hard the work week was, discuss how glad and thankful you are that God has allotted one day a week as a day of rest.
Young people are certainly not exempt from these principles of proper Sabbath conversation. No teenager is too young to read the Trumpet, Royal Vision and the news of the Work.
The main reason the ancient Israelites were taken captive by the Assyrians and Judah by the Babylonians was that they profaned the Sabbath Day! Much of this Sabbath-breaking was due to the carelessness of later generations. The later the generation, the more it seems we take things for granted, especially when it’s something many of us have heard all our lives. As young people, we should strive to read the Trumpet articles and listen to the Sabbath messages and discuss them with our peers, as well as the adults.
How to Converse
Knowing what to talk about means little if we don’t know how to talk. The Bible is full of precious gems of wisdom concerning this subject, especially in Psalms and Proverbs. But let’s first go back to Matthew 12. Jesus said, “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, ”they shall give account thereof in the Day of Judgment” (verse 36). We will be held responsible for every word we say! That alone tells us we ought to be very careful and think things through before we speak. How we use our tongue can have a tremendous impact—positive or negative. “So the tongue is a little member and boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire!” (James 3:5, Revised Standard Version). It is clear that God is very concerned about what we say. Keep that in mind before starting any conversation.
Proverbs makes it clear we should not only be careful what we say, but how much we say. “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19). In other words, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking,” as the Revised Standard Version states it. Instead of trying to be the center of the conversation, set a goal to get a good conversation started and allow for others to get involved. A lot can be said in just a few words.
Another important principle is found in Proverbs 18:13: “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” Allow others to finish their point, and be careful not to interrupt. Then after you have thoroughly thought about what to say, respond when the opportunity presents itself and not before.
Use Sabbath fellowship to get others involved who may sometimes be more quiet or reserved, or to speak to those you only see at services and who may have traveled great distances to be there. Make an effort on the Sabbath to talk to someone you do not converse with often.
Keep in mind that those who are just visiting may only know you, or remember you, for the few words you said to them in fellowship. Don’t pretend to be someone you aren’t, but be careful to leave a good impression. Think before you speak!
As with everything, Christian fellowship should be done in moderation. It should always be secondary to our fellowship with God and Jesus Christ. Occasional fellowship on Friday evening or going out for dinner after services on Saturday is appropriate. Just don’t let it take you away from your fellowship with God.
Christian fellowship is vital for spiritual growth. An inspiring conversation on the Sabbath can be a huge lift for someone who may have had a particularly tough week. The tongue is indeed a powerful tool. It can pierce someone like a sword if used in the wrong way, or it can heal if used in the right way (see Proverbs 12:18). Another proverb says, “The tongue of the just is as choice silver …” (Proverbs 10:20). Do our words come out as “choice silver” or as an old rusty piece of metal?
Notice Proverbs 25:11: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” What an inspiration our conversation can be! Like apples of gold in pictures of silver! Don’t take Sabbath fellowship for granted. Rather, use fellowship to stimulate spiritual growth not only in your life, but in others’ too!