Labor and Resting
Soon Labor Day will be upon us, a day to paradoxically commemorate the work that is done out in the labor field by taking time off to rest, relax, and recuperate. Though it is a secular holiday, it’s always a good idea to take a Biblical look at the background purpose and let our worldview be shaped by God’s Word in every way possible. And so, this Labor Day, let us remember that both work and rest have been given to us by God.
In Genesis 2, after creating man, God “put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Even before the fall into sin, while creation was still in its “very good” state, God had ordained for man to work as a steward within the garden, taking care of the world for the benefit of the society that was to descend from humanity’s parents. So, while the corrupting influence of sin has made it such that work now often becomes toil, there is a reason we feel satisfaction after a good day’s labor. We were designed to work. And notice that the job given to Adam wasn’t “church work.” As the doctrine of vocation points out, you don’t have to be a priest, monk, or nun to be serving God. Any job that provides a service to your neighbor, that cares for the earth, or benefits society in one way or another can be a God-pleasing calling. We need pastors to proclaim God’s Word, yes, but we also need farmers to feed us, mechanics to keep our cars running, cashiers to make sure people are adequately paid for the goods they produce, etc. All have their role in providing for and serving their neighbor and creation.
At the same time, we aren’t built to only work. God rested on the seventh day – not because He was weakened and needed rest, but to serve as a model for us. As Jesus says, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” As important as our jobs may be, we are also called to step away from them to enjoy the creation that God has given to us, to find our renewal in being out in nature, in resting to renew our bodies, and in the Divine Service where we refresh and renew our soul.
So happy Labor Day, enjoy the time off as much as you can, and give thanks to God that He has given us both the gift of work and rest that we might enjoy them in His grace and favor.
God’s blessings, Pastor Biar