Sermon:  Labor vs. Work


Summary:  When it comes to work, labor, and rest, God has principles for each that indicate we were created to work but due to sin, work became labor, creating the need for seasons of rest from labor for the purpose of physical and spiritual renewal.  Ultimately, we will rest from our labors and serve God without the curse of Adam.


Text:  Various


Scripture Reading:  Prov 10:3-5



1.  Happy Labor Day Weekend.  What does Labor Day make you think of?

            a.  Picnic, barbeque, time with family, traveling, beginning of school, etc.

            b.  Labor Day is a long weekend.  Why not call it rest day, time off day?

2.  Why is there a Labor Day anyway?

            a.  Been around for over 100 years in America

            b.  Day set aside to remember and celebrate the value and dignity of work

3.  Does the Bible have anything to say about work?  You job?  Day off? etc.?

            a.  The answer to any question like that should always be "yes"

            b.  The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it

            c.  God the creator has a design for every part of life

            d.  Therefore, there will either be direct instruction, or a biblical principle

                 for every single aspect of life, both private and public

4.  This morning, we will reflect on the biblical teach of labor and rest


I.  What about Labor?

            A.  How many of you enjoy laboring?

                        1.  Most people prefer not to labor

                        2.  There is a difference between labor and work.

                                    a.  If work is hard, drains you, you dread it, then it is "labor"

                                    b.  If work is enjoyable, satisfying, it is lot "labor" but work

            B.  ILL:  Have you every taken an aptitude or interest test?

                        1.  I can remember taking the military aptitude test

                                    a.  Tells you what you have a high aptitude for. 

                                    b.  For me it was mechanics, 97 and electronics, 89

                                    c.  I chose electronics, the schooling was very easy for me

                                    d.  Worked on aircraft electronics.  Good at it.  Enjoyed it

                        2.  Maybe you have taken career aptitude test of some sort

                                    a.  Kids take them in High School

                                    b.  Show if you like to work with people with possible careers

                                    c.  If good at technical things, eye for detail, etc.

                                    d.  Based on this, can choose major in school

            C.  Q:  Were we as humans created to labor?

                        1.  Genesis is the ideal.

                                    a.  (Gen 1:26-28) - God gave man a role to play in creation

                                                - Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth

                                                - Rule or have dominion over the earth

                                                - Gen 2:15 - Man to keep, or be keeper of paradise

                                                            = Why I call it "Paradise?"

                                                            = The word used is Garden

                                                            = Paradise is the Persian word for garden

                                                            = Man was the keeper, caretaker, overseer

                                                - Later, he names the animals.  Beginning of science?

                                                            = Part of science is classification of creation

                                    b.  God created mankind to work

                                                - By God's design, it is the natural order of things

                                                - It is a reflection of God

                                                (Jn 5:17) - Jesus said Father has been working

                                    c.  Do you think mankind enjoyed working for the Lord?

                                                - God looked and say everything was "very good"

                                                - All was harmony, peace

                                    d.  We can conclude his work was enjoyable, satisfying, and


                        2.  Work didn't stay this way, everything changed in Gen 3

                                    a.  The woman and man sinned, and sin twisted everything

                                    b.  To the man, he said work would become Labor

                                                - Things not turn out the way you intend

                                                - You will toil, labor, sweat, get tired to live

                                    c.  To the woman, childbirth would be excruciating labor

                                    d.  Because of sin, work became labor

            D.  Mankind was created to work, but labor is a result of sin

                        1.  Things not cooperate with us when we work

                        2.  Sometimes work is so laborious, tiresome, dread it

                        3.  So, we need a season of rest.  Brings us to next point


II.  Does the Bible say anything about Rest?

            A.  Bible has both positive and negative assessment of rest

                        1.  How many of you enjoy resting?

                        2.  How many of you can't stand to rest?

            B.  I want to tell you about a wise person the Bible describes for us

                        1.  Proverbs 26 gives characteristics of him:

                                    a.  He avoids danger (Prov 26:13)

                                    b.  He is active (Prov 26:14)

                                    c.  He also conserves energy (Prov 24:15)

                                    d.  He is wise (Prov 26:16)

                        2.  The problems is not rest, but that he is lazy and never works

                        3.  Prov 21:25 - The desire of the sluggard puts him to death, for his

                             hands refuse to work

                        4.  But does this mean that rest is inherently bad?  Of course not!

            C.  ILL:  Rest is good and needed. 

                        1.  In the military, I had 30 days of leave a year

                                    - accumulate 2.5 days a month

                        2.  Ray Bushee, my coworker, saved up 90 days of leave!

                                    a.  Means he hadn't taken any significant time off in 3 yrs

                                    b.  Practically lived at the shop

                                                - Came early, stayed late

                                                - Volunteered for standby on weekends

                                    c.  Could only roll over max of 60 days into the next year

                                    d.  He was ordered to take time off and use up those days

                        3.  Can you imagine being "ordered" to take time off?

            D.  Do you realize God "ordered" Israel to take time off on regular basis?

                        1.  He called it shabbatt, which means "rest"

                        2.  Why?   Time of rest and renewal physical and spiritual

                                    a.  (Ex 20:8-11) - No work by anyone

                                                - God created the earth with a day of rest

                                                - Sabbath becomes a cycle of life, work, rest

                                    b.  Did God get tired?  No

                                                - Is 40:28 - He never gets tired

                                                - More like an artist when he is finished with his work

                                                - He "rests" steps back sees his work is very good

                                                -   So even if Israel were to say, "I not tired," you still

                                                     observe Sabbath day and keep it holy

                                    c.  It is not just physical, but spiritual renewal

                                                - Ex 16:23 - Called a Sabbath "to the Lord"

                                                - Dt 5:15 - Remember you used to be slaves

                                                - God freed them and gave them "rest"

                                                            = Ex 33:14 - God said he would go with Israel

                                                                to Canaan and give them rest

                                                            = Josh 22:4 - After conquest, God gave them

                                                                "rest" in the land

                                                - Time to rest, reflect, and renew body and spirit

                                    d.  Lev 25 - Also was a Sabbath Year

                                                - Even the land had a year to rest!

                        3.  If the Law is our schoolmaster, what does this teach us?

                                    a.  We need seasons of rest

                                                - It is unnatural to go on all cylinders without a break

                                    b.  Sabbath law along with rest nailed to cross, but the need

                                         for Sabbath still remains

                                    c.  God's pattern is work, then rest, then work then rest

                        4.  Whether it is a day off, a vacation, a sabbatical, a retreat, we

                             need seasons of rest after we work


III.  There is also eternal work and rest

            A.  We familiar with eternal rest.  But work?

            B.  ILL:  First memorial service I did in full time ministry was in Vermont

                        1.  In honor of Lois Cram, long time member of the church

                        2.  She had requested a poem be read for her memorial

Epitaph of a tired woman: Here lies a poor woman,

who was so very tired, She lived in a house

where help was not hired, Her last words on earth,

were dear friends I'm going Where washing ain't done,

nor sweeping, nor sewing But everything there is,

just to my wishes For where they don't eat

there's no washing dishes I'll be where loud anthems

will always be ringing, But having no voice

I'll be clear of the singing

Don't mourn for me now, don't mourn for me never

I'm going to do nothing for ever and ever

                        3.  This is voice of one who had labored day in and day out

                        4.  Wouldn't you like a time to do nothing?

                                    a.  But would you want to do "nothing" forever and ever?

                                    b.  We were created to function, to work

                                    c.  Might not be happy doing nothing forever

            C.  Look at what Bible says

                        1.  (Rev 14:13) - Those who die in the Lord will rest from Labors

                                    a.  Doesn't say rest from, "work," but labors

                                    b.  Grk:  kopos - Labor, trouble, hardship

                        2.  (Rev 22:1-5) - They will serve him

                                    a.  We not going to sit around and do nothing

                                    b.  We will serve God without the curse

                                    c.  Remember the curse - Work became labor then you die

                                    d.  Work will be pleasure, joy, satisfying, fulfill our purpose

                        3.  By God's design, work has inherent dignity and honor

            D.  We were created to work, so we will serve God eternally

                        1.  This is how it is eternal rest and eternal work

                        2.  Rest from our labors and serve God eternally



1.  Do need to warn you

            a.  There will also be a place where there is NEVER any rest

            b.  Rev 14:11 - Smoke of torment forever, no rest day and night

            c.  What an awful awful picture

2.  Good news - Jesus provides a way to rest rather than torment (inv)

3.  If you have obeyed the Gospel, then serve God, and enjoy the time off

            a.  We want to work and serve God in all we do

            b.  We get tired in the work of the Lord, but not tired of it

            c.  So we take a season of rest to renew our body and spirit

4.  Enjoy the rest of the weekend - It is a gift