Lesson 28: The Sabbath

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 2, (1993), 105–8


Each young man will know how to choose appropriate Sabbath activities.


  1. 1.

    Materials needed:

    1. a.

      Scriptures for each young man.

    2. b.

      A piece of paper and a pencil for each young man.

  2. 2.

    Assign a young man to read or tell the story related by Elder Gene R. Cook.

  3. 3.

    Review the counsel about Sunday behavior on pages 16 and 17 of For the Strength of Youth.


We live in a world in which the sanctity and importance of the Sabbath day as a holy day are rapidly losing ground to the idea of the Sabbath as a day of work and recreation. Young people are tempted in many ways to break the Sabbath. They might feel more secure if they had a list of rules for keeping the Sabbath holy, but no list of “dos” and “don’ts” could cover every possible situation. The spiritually mature person has learned to judge the appropriateness of Sabbath activities by applying scriptural guidelines and listening to the promptings of the Spirit. Help the young men to understand what these guidelines are.

Suggested Lesson Development


Case study

Sam was confused about keeping the Sabbath day holy. He loved the Lord and wanted to serve him properly on the day set aside to worship, but he did not know what to do with the time before and after his Church meetings. Some of his friends didn’t go outside at all on the Sabbath; others spent a great deal of time outdoors. Some of his friends studied their school lessons on Sunday; others did not. Sam was confused as to what he should do to keep the Sabbath day holy.

  • Have you ever felt as Sam did?

  • How can we tell if it’s all right to do something on the Sabbath?

The Scriptures Give Us Guidelines for Appropriate Sabbath Activities

Scripture and discussion

  • What things do you usually do on Sundays?

Discuss this question briefly, then explain that you will return to this question later in the lesson.

Have the young men read Exodus 20:8.

  • What is the Lord’s commandment concerning the Sabbath day? (To keep it holy.)

  • We refer to the holy temple and to the holy priesthood. What does the word holy mean? (Set apart or sanctified for the service of God.)

Chalkboard presentation

  • What questions can we ask to decide if something is an appropriate Sunday activity?

Write the following words on the chalkboard:

Judging Sabbath Day Activities

Is my action holy, or of service to God?

You may want to have a young man read the counsel about Sunday worship on pages 16 and 17 of For the Strength of Youth.

Scripture and discussion

Explain that rather than give strict rules for proper Sabbath observance, Jesus taught principles that should guide us in choosing proper Sabbath-day activities.

Have the young men read Mark 3:1–5.

  • How would you answer the Savior’s question in verse 4?

  • What do you think it means to “do good on the sabbath days”? (Point out that we can tell if we are doing good by listening to the promptings of the Spirit.)

Add the following question to the chalkboard: Is it doing good?

Have the young men read and underline Doctrine and Covenants 59:9–13.

  • Where are we commanded to go on Sundays? (To the “house of prayer,” that is, to church.)

  • What are we to do there? (Partake of the sacrament and worship God.)

  • Why has the Lord given us this commandment? (To help us keep ourselves “unspotted from the world.”)

  • Are we keeping ourselves “unspotted from the world” when we go shopping or go to places of entertainment on Sunday?

  • How does proper observance of the Sabbath help keep us “unspotted from the world”? (It helps focus our thoughts on God and on things of eternal significance.)

Chalkboard, scripture, and discussion

Add the following question to the chalkboard: Does it help keep me “unspotted from the world”?

Have a young man read Isaiah 58:13–14 aloud.

  • What guidelines does Isaiah give us for keeping the Sabbath day holy?

Explain that the foot was a symbol of following, so to “turn away thy foot … from doing thy pleasure” means to not follow after your own desires on the Sabbath.

Add the following question to those on the chalkboard: Is it honoring the Lord, or am I selfishly following my own desires?

Explain that the guidelines on the chalkboard provide a measure for deciding if an activity is appropriate for the Sabbath. Such an approach requires more maturity than having a rule for every situation. You will have little trouble keeping the Sabbath day holy if you look for good things to do on the Sabbath, listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and, when in doubt, ask yourself these questions:

  1. 1.

    Is my action holy, or of service to God?

  2. 2.

    Is it doing good?

  3. 3.

    Does it keep me “unspotted from the world”?

  4. 4.

    Is it honoring the Lord, or am I selfishly following my own desires?

You may wish to provide each young man with a list of these questions.


  • What things do you usually do on Sundays?

  • Which of these activities are in keeping with the guidelines on the chalkboard? (Write their responses on the chalkboard. Answers might include attending church, visiting a friend or relative, discussing the gospel with other family members, writing in a journal, going home teaching, studying the scriptures and other good books relating to the gospel, and setting goals for the coming week.)

  • What are some other things you could do on Sunday that would be in keeping with these guidelines?

Add the suggestions to the list on the chalkboard.


Pass out a piece of paper and a pencil to each young man. Have each write down from the activities listed on the chalkboard those that he would like to do on Sundays.

Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy Contributes to Spiritual Growth

Thought questions

  • How does proper observance of the Sabbath contribute to our spiritual growth? How does inappropriate behavior detract from our spiritual growth?


Elder Gene R. Cook of the First Quorum of the Seventy tells how he learned the value of keeping the Sabbath day holy when he was a young man working for a newspaper. Have the previously assigned young man present the following account:

“One Saturday afternoon after finishing work, the manager told me that starting a week from the following day, on Sunday, it would be necessary for me to work every Sunday morning. … He then attempted to entice me by telling me that my pay would be increased by 30 percent, thinking that this might change my mind about the principle of not working on Sunday.

“I remember how strongly those words fell upon my heart, but I also remember my response: ‘I am quite certain that I cannot work on Sunday.’

“‘Well,’ he said, ‘you will have to work on Sunday or I will find another assistant manager.’

“I left the office rather teary-eyed that day. I remember asking the Lord why I should lose my job as a result of the Church. I had been working hard to save enough money to support myself on a mission, and now I was going to lose my job unless I were willing to work on Sunday.

“I talked to my father to ask his counsel, and all he would tell me was, ‘I am sure you will do what is right, whatever that may be.’ …

“The following Saturday I went in and announced to the manager that I would not work on Sunday. He informed me that since that was my choice, I would have one week and no longer as the assistant manager, and then I would be replaced by a young man who was ‘really willing to work.’

“I left work that day with a very heavy heart, realizing that in five or six days I would be without a job. In one more year I was to go on my mission, and I did not yet have sufficient funds to support myself. I prayed much that week.

“The following days at work seemed very long, and there were very few words spoken between my boss and me. I waited for the next Saturday, which was to be my last day.

“Friday finally arrived. As I was finishing work that evening, the manager approached me and said, somewhat emotionally, ‘Gene, you are right in what you are doing, and I am wrong in asking you to work on Sunday. I have found a young man of another religion who is willing to work on Sunday, but I still want you to be my assistant manager. And by the way, that 30 percent increase will be given to you anyway, even though you will not be working the seventh day. You are a very good young man’” (“At Any Cost, Keep the Commandments,” New Era, May 1977, p. 5).

  • How did Elder Cook’s decision to keep the Sabbath day holy contribute to his spiritual growth? (It strengthened his faith and his testimony.)

Adviser presentation

Explain that some people, such as doctors and nurses, may have to work on Sundays. We each must make that decision for ourselves, with the Lord’s help. The Lord will bless us if we strive to keep the Sabbath day holy. If we fail to keep the Sabbath holy, we will miss out on great blessings and will retard our spiritual growth.

  • How have you been blessed by observing the Sabbath?


Explain that observing the Sabbath can contribute to our spiritual growth in another way. The Sabbath provides a unique opportunity for us to serve others.

  • What experiences have you had with giving service on the Sabbath?

  • What are some ways that we could be of service to others on the Sabbath? (Answers might include visiting the sick, writing letters to missionaries or servicemen, collecting fast offerings, and going home teaching. Suggest that the young men include some of these activities on their lists of appropriate Sabbath-day activities.)



Read the following quotation from President George Albert Smith:

“[The Lord] has set apart one day in seven, not to make it a burden, but to bring joy into our lives” (“Obey the Commandments,” Improvement Era, Jan. 1949, p. 9).


Challenge the young men to prove President Smith’s statement by selecting their Sunday activities using the scriptural guidelines and list they developed in the lesson. Then at the end of each Sabbath, they could record their feelings about the day in their journals.

Have each young man write down the specific things he will do to keep the Sabbath holy, keeping in mind the guidelines given in For the Strength of Youth.