At Work

Labor Day: An Invitation to Sabbath

LinkedIn Email Print

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s website, “Labor Day is an annual celebration of the social and economic achievements of American workers.” The first Labor Day was celebrated in New York City in 1882, and President Grover Cleveland made Labor Day a national holiday in 1894. For more than 100 years, the United States has celebrated the contributions of the American worker, and through a theological lens, Labor Day is an invitation to Sabbath. One of the best ways to honor God’s work through us is by honoring the Sabbath.

Why We Need The Sabbath

In July, Scot Bellavia provided three reasons for why honoring Sabbath is good for us:

  • We reflect God’s image by remembering he rested on the seventh day of creation.
  • Sabbath rejuvenates us and our work.
  • Sabbath reminds us God is our provider.  

God is infinite, yet he rested as if he were finite. We are finite, yet we rest to reflect our infinite God. With Labor Day, our nation reflects on the importance of faithful work, but scripture’s emphasis on work and rest far predates 1882 or 1894. Beginning with the creation narrative in Genesis, God instituted the idea of setting aside a day to rest and reflect on his provision for our lives. Scott Bellavia goes on to write, 

Even when we aren’t doing something to justify our paycheck, God is our provider. Six days of productivity is well sufficient to cover our expenses on the seventh day—that was God’s design. In fact, God’s design includes a reminder that we trust God with a portion of our lives each day, whether we realize it or not.

While work is an important part of our lives, Sabbath provides the opportunity to cherish something necessary, and that is intimacy with Jehovah Jireh.  

Regarding Sabbath, Dr. John Pletcher writes

It’s a call to break from our normal push and rush to craft, accomplish, build, network, cultivate, sell, coordinate, and otherwise produce. Sabbath is our divine decree to very deliberately change our frantic, mad-dash pace, to more deliberately be instead of endlessly do.  

Sabbath Gratitude

Labor Day, whether directly or indirectly, reflects the Biblical model of Sabbath by honoring hard work by resting from it. As you rest this Labor Day, for what do you need to give God thanks?  What blessings has he provided in your life for which you have yet to express your gratitude?

One of the beautiful benefits of an attitude of thanksgiving is it gives us confidence in God’s ability to accomplish his purposes for our lives. An excellent example of this is the well-known verse of Philippians 4:13 where the Apostle Paul writes, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” You have probably seen this verse on Christian merchandise and inscribed on wall art, but what is often ignored is the larger context for this verse. In Philippians 4:11, Paul states he has learned to be content in all circumstances. In 4:12, he details several circumstances including being “brought low” and abounding, being hungry and being full, being in need and having an abundance. It is only after he identifies these wide-ranging circumstances that he says he can do all things through Christ.  

Paul’s ministry was filled with incredible difficulty, yet he was confident in God’s purposes for his life because he recognized God would provide everything he needed for every circumstance. Paul’s trust in God’s ability to provide did not waiver based on the temporary circumstances he found himself in.  

Sabbath in Every Circumstance

Are the circumstances you are going through now affecting your view of God’s ability to provide? It is easy, as finite human beings, to question God’s faithfulness when He does not provide the supply in our timing, but God’s amazing provision includes his perfect timing. He will supply what we need when we need it, and this was a truth the Apostle Paul understood.  

As we reflect on God’s providing hand for our lives this Labor Day, thank him not just for his supply, but thank him for his timing. Had every prayer we ever prayed been answered in our timing, we would have missed out on some of God’s greatest blessings. Our trust in God’s ability to provide includes a recognition that his timing is better than our own, and he will always come through according to his will. We should be grateful for his supply and timing because God is at work in our lives, and Sabbath provides the opportunity to recognize his sovereignty over every area of our lives, including our vocational callings. Let this Labor Day be an invitation to Sabbath.

Further readings on At Work

  • Arts & Culture
  • At Work

Back in March, I had an interesting discussion with our unit chaplain. He had given a lot of thought to…

  • At Work
Living Out the Lord’s Prayer at Work

By: Mike Sharrow

5 minute read

Why don’t people say “TGIM?” TGIF (Thank Goodness it’s Friday!) is a popular exclamation for those longing for the end…