“What about study and recreation on Sunday?” New Era, Mar. 1972, 32
Whoever asks himself this question (and I have on occasion asked it of myself) is in danger of never finding the answer. Because of the way the question is phrased, he will in all probability look for the answer in the wrong place.
The question says, in effect, “Is it wrong to study and play on Sunday?” When one thinks about these wholesome activities, he may not be able to see anything wrong with participating in them on the Sabbath. After all, they are permissible on the other days of the week.
But if a person asks the question in a different way, he can find what I believe is the answer. When I think back on my Sundays in high school, college, and graduate school, I cherish the memory of those when I enjoyed the Lord’s Spirit while carrying out my stewardship or visiting someone in need or reading the scriptures. The others I either regret or have forgotten. They were the Sundays when I did things that were (like studying) not wrong in themselves but were things that kept me from partaking of the special Spirit of that day. Instead of asking, “Are studying and recreation wrong on Sunday?” it is more helpful to ask, “Will studying and recreation keep me from a full measure of the Sabbath’s blessings?” The answer to the second question is that anything that interferes with these blessings is unworthy of the Sabbath.
Some think that they need to study on Sunday like their fellow students in order to keep up; graduate school students especially tend to feel this way. This thinking seems to me erroneous. What is needed in such circumstances is quality study time, time in which one is clear of conscience, is alert, and is reasonably confident. Simply adding more quantity on Sunday won’t necessarily give a person additional quality time; on the contrary, in Sunday study a student tends to lose the clarity and alertness and sense of the Lord’s active support that he needs for his study time to be profitable. On the other hand, if he partakes of the Lord’s peace-giving and renewing Spirit on the Sabbath, the inner obstacles that can make study inefficient—the restlessness and procrastination and guilt—will usually be minimized the rest of the week.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” It is by sacrifice that one makes things holy. In this case, a student sacrifices his Sunday to the Lord, giving up activities that are not intrinsically wrong in any way in order to carry a measure of that day’s holiness with him through the coming days.