A friend of mine once brought to mind a truth that I have seen played out many times in conversation. Upon meeting someone, people in my generation (good ol’ Generation X) will quickly ask, “What do you do for fun?” People in the generations before me will quickly ask, “What do you do for work?”
I live in a generation which often defines people by what they do to entertain themselves, yet we live in a world that is intended to define people partially by what they do to employ themselves.
Before sin ever entered into the world, God set up a pattern that is intended to be followed by all men. Each week Adam was intended to spend six days in the cultivation of his surroundings and one day in rest. The LORD uses this pattern as a ground for Sabbath keeping and many people refer to the Sabbath as a “creation ordinance” because of this pattern.
What is often not realized, or at least not stressed, is the fact that Sabbath keeping is a seven day duty. Have a look at the commandment in Exodus 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 a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Six days shall you labor. This is part of the Sabbath command. We frequently want to know about people’s Sabbath keeping. “What do you do on the Sabbath?” “What don’t you let your kids do?” “Does your church have morning and evening worship?”
All of these are good questions, of course. Each one of these questions needs to be answered according to the Word of God. But have you ever heard this question: “How are you keeping the Sabbath on Thursday?”
We would find this question strange. We might answer, “I’m not a Fifth Day Adventist!” Well… no one is going to answer the question that way, but there will be confusion, for sure.
My generation and younger generations of the church need to regain a biblical understanding of Sabbath keeping on Thursday (and the other six days). God calls us to work, and work is good according to the Scriptures.
The Apostle Paul, in correcting a false understanding of work among the Christians in Thessaloniki, wrote:
Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living (2 Thessalonians 3:6-12).
Toil and labor day and night. That was the pattern that Paul and company exemplified among the believers. They were Sabbath keepers on Thursday. They walked according to God’s revealed will and encouraged those around them to do the same. As Christians we are called to labor in our work quietly and to earn a living.
Thomas Watson, an English Presbyterian and Puritan wrote:
A Christian must not only mind heaven, but his calling. While the pilot has his eye to the stars, he has his hand to the helm. Without labor the pillars of a commonwealth will dissolve, and the earth will be overrun with briars… Piety does not exclude industry. Standing water purifies. Inanimate creatures are in motion. The sun goes its circuit, the fountain runs, and the fire sparkles. Animate creatures work. Solomon sends us to the ant to learn labor. The bee is the emblem of industry; some of the bees trim honey, others work the wax, others frame the comb, others lie sentinel at the door of the hive to keep out the drone. And shall not man much more accustom himself to labor? (Ten Commandments, p.98)
So you want to be a good Sabbath keeper? Do you believe Sabbath keeping is a pillar of a solid reformed church and community?
Work six days. Labor in the calling to which God has called you and do it unto his glory. Keeping the Sabbath is more than just what we do on the Lord’s Day; it’s what we do on Thursday as well. The Christian church is to be a people of labor as well as a people of rest. Keep the Sabbath, friends. And work hard on six days as you keep it.