Work, rest and worship
Once, we visited the United States and I suffered a minor culture shock.
We’d arrived after ‘Labor Day.’ When we came across an ice-cream cafe
we discovered that it was closed. It was out of season. We were in holiday
mode, but the season had changed.
In the USA ‘Labor Day’ falls on the first Monday of September. It
commemorates the workers’ contributions to national strength, prosperity
and well-being. It also marks the unofficial end of summer, a long
weekend to visit with family or friends and the last day of the vacation
before a new school year begins. It owes its origins to the labour union
which advocated 8 hours for work, 8 hours for recreation and 8 hours for
It is perhaps a failing of the Christian church to downplay work. Yet it is
part of our Creator’s plan for us to engage in work, rest and worship. The
blueprint for human life is found in the first book of the Bible which
opens by stating how everything belongs to God: ‘In the beginning God
created the heavens and the earth’ (Genesis 1v1). It later teaches that
work is a key aspect of everyday life: ‘the LORD God took the man and
put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it’ (Gen 1v15).
Our work is a vehicle for serving God and the wider community as we
put our skills to good use. This helps us to understand two problems of
modern life. The dignity given to work accounts for why being without
work not only challenges us financially, but also is frustrating.
Additionally, we were made to serve God but not to become a slave of
the work we do, although the demands of employers today are very
challenging. Ultimately, our value and self-esteem are to be found in
relation to God and not to be rooted in our work. To use a building site
analogy, we must first get the foundations sorted if we want the structure
to stand firm. We are made to worship God: get this right and it helps to
get the priorities in life right.
So, let this Autumn be the time when you put first
things first: to work, rest and worship. Work where
you can to put your skills to profitable use. Rest
when you can to attend to relationships and
recreation. But do not neglect to worship the
LORD: for we were made to know Him and give
our whole lives to His service.