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What is wrong with playing sports on the Sabbath?

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There are two fundamental principles involved in keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. First, it is a day of rest and, second, we are to uphold the spiritual intent of the day. God wants us to be renewed both physically and spiritually. Designed for this purpose, the Sabbath is a gift from God and not a burden. It is for our own well being (Mark 2:27 Mark 2:27And he said to them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:
American King James Version×
).

When one is involved in playing sports on the Sabbath, it is generally a physically and mentally enervating experience for purely secular reasons—something contrary to the purpose of the Sabbath. In contrast to other days of the week, God says the Sabbath is holy time—time set apart as different from other time during the week (Genesis 2:3 Genesis 2:3And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
American King James Version×
)—and it has a specific spiritual purpose.

We keep the Sabbath holy only by refraining from work or pursuits that are intended for the other six days of the week. If we were participating in a sport on the Sabbath, it would distract our attention from the intended purpose of the day. Furthermore, we would be using God's time for our own selfish pursuits and, therefore, we would no longer be keeping the Sabbath holy.

In this society that ignores God's Commandments, the Sabbath can be a test of our faith. But when we call it a delight and not a burden, it then becomes a great blessing to our lives and God rewards us richly (Isaiah 58:13-14 Isaiah 58:13-14 13 If you turn away your foot from the sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honorable; and shall honor him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words: 14 Then shall you delight yourself in the LORD; and I will cause you to ride on the high places of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it.
American King James Version×
). The Sabbath is a time for resting from our normal activities and focusing on spiritual priorities.