Take a minute and rest.

Watch this short video!

Consider how you labor and

how you spend your leisure time.

In all things, glorify God and give thanks.

labor + leisure

On Labor Day we celebrate the hard work of the people of our nation. It is a day set aside to pay tribute to the contributions made by all American workers to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.  It’s about labor, not leisure.  It’s about what people do, not who they are.

Labor is God Ordained.

Labor is a good thing.  Man was created to work.  It was part of God’s plan from the beginning of time, when He breathed life into Adam and put Him in the Garden to tend it (Gen 2:7-8, 15).  And why was Adam to tend the Garden?  We can probably name lots of reasons, but I would suggest that it was a way in which he would reflect an attribute of God.  God is both creative and productive.  In six days God created the world and all that is in it. Adam was to reflect God by tending the Garden and by stewarding that which God had given Him.   

Stewarding is another word that describes our work as a response to God. The verb form of the word steward means to keep order, to manage or look after another’s property.  That’s exactly the work Adam was given.  And that’s exactly what we do as an ambassador of Christ, and also as in life, whether it be in the workplace, the home or leisure activities.  

Is Our Concept of Work Wrong?

Because we receive financial compensation from our jobs, do we have a wrong perception of what it means to work?  Is there a difference in working for man and laboring for God?  There shouldn’t be.  According to the apostle Paul, the same principle should apply to all forms of productive labor and even to all activities of leisure.

Col 3:23  And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,

Col 3:24  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

It really is about who governs our lives in both our labor and our leisure.  

Is Our Life’s Equation Out of Balance?

There are no definitive numbers that can be placed on the equation of Life = Labor + Leisure.  We can’t say that 100% Life = 50% Labor + 50% Leisure.  Nor can we say that 100% Life = >50% Labor + <50% Leisure or 100% Life = <50% Labor + >50% Leisure.  What we can know is that Labor comes before Leisure.  God created the pattern of six days of labor and rest on the seventh day.  

No Labor, All Leisure?

In the mid-1980s, the book The Abolition of Work claimed that “No one should ever work. Work is the source of nearly all the misery in the world. Almost any evil you’d care to name comes from working or from living in a world designed for work. In order to stop suffering, we have to stop working.”  Well, we can agree that goes against what God designed.

Even earlier, sometime in the 1970s, it was thought that by the new millennium we would all be working four-day work weeks.  This was to come about because of the efficiencies technology would create.  We all know how wrong that was.  Most people are working more and more hours, and sometimes because of technological “efficiencies.”

As Christians, we know that God ordained labor, so the idea of no labor is absurd. Plus, it just isn’t going to happen.  We adding more work hours, not reducing them.  With each year, we see the introduction of new technological “efficiencies,” but somehow they seem to have little effect on really improving efficiencies in the work place. 

Again, labor is a good thing.  We were created to labor.

All Labor, No Leisure? 

Just as labor is ordained by God, so also is rest ordained. We were created to both work and rest and God has told us this in both pattern and command.

Gen 2:2-3  And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.  And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

Exo 20:8-11  “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. Exo 20:11  For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

Quantity vs Quality in Labor + Leisure

So the real question is not about the division of time in labor and leisure.  It’s really about the quality of time in both.  

Labor Day is intended to be a day of quality leisure.  Take the time to make it so.  While rest can be found in both labor and leisure, it does not exist in either.  Physical rest is something we choose to do, just as we choose to work.  However, another kind of rest, the rest in our salvation–our soul rest–is not something we do.  Soul-rest is different than leisure.  It is spiritual rest and it is a gift.  We must only receive it.

Jesus + nothing = 100% soul rest

  • Our soul rest exists in a Person–the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Our soul rest is experienced in a relationship–a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  
  • Our soul rest is lived in hope–in the new heart that He has given us.
  • Our soul rest is fueled by faith–by the power of His Holy Spirit.
  • Our soul rest is freely given to us in love, the love of our Saviour.
  • Our soul rest is received and sufficient, in the Lord’s grace
  • Our soul rest is forever, because of His faithfulness.

Soul rest surpasses all understanding.  Jesus + nothing = 100% soul rest is the equation by which we should labor and leisure.  Take pleasure in your work.  It is a gift from God (Eccl 3:13).  Jesus is Lord over both our labor and our leisure.  We are to find rest in Him for we are His.  He has loved and redeemed us.  In Him, we are affirmed and approved.

Go, eat your bread with joy, And drink your wine with a merry heart; For God has already accepted your works [and your leisure]. (Eccl 9:7, bracketed information added)  

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Do not be anxious about anything.  (Phil 4:6)

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must rightly remember who is in control.  Our God is sovereign over all things, including COVID-19.  As Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) said, “The sovereignty of God is a soft pillow on which weary people lay their heads.” 

Remember also God’s gracious promise, and that it is true and He is faithful to keep it:  Hebrews 13:5 …”I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”  The next verse remind us of the power that comes in trusting God and how we can live:  Hebrews 13:6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man [or COVID-19] shall do to me.

God loves us, and in Christ we find confidence and calm in times of uncertainty and trouble.  When we trust in God, fear is replaced with faith, stress is replaced with strength, anxiety is gone and hope abounds, problems become opportunities, and we are able to receive the blessings God has for us in the midst of difficult circumstances. Turn to Jesus. He will lead you to the still waters and give rest for your troubled soul.  

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…Hebrews 6:19

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