Thoughts for Labor Day
John Telgren


 once knew a guy who worked three jobs. He was a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force. In addition to this, he worked second shift at Tandy Electronics, troubleshooting and repairing computers and other electronic equipment, and worked at a convenience store on the weekends. Having three jobs, he worked seven days a week and barely had enough time to sleep. It was not uncommon for him to have had three to four hours of sleep. I am not sure how he was able to keep up that pace as long as he did. Something had to give. Perhaps what gave was his family. He was divorced and had children. Yet he sold away virtually all of his time with nothing left for his family or himself. There were those that seemed to admire him for his "dedication." I am not sure what his dedication was to. There were also those who were concerned about him. It just didn't seem right for a man to work seven days a week and live off of such a meager amount of sleep. Most Americans still view forty hours as the norm for a workweek. In some European countries, the norm is thirty to thirty five hours a week. Whatever the case, there has to be time for rest and renewal.

Working hard is good. Working hard without rest is not. I am reminded of God's instruction about the Sabbath day. God had instructed Israel to set apart a day of rest. Six days they were to work, the seventh day was to be a day of complete rest for all people, including even the animals (Dt 5:12-15). This was not a suggestion, but a life or death command (Ex 31:14).

Even though we are not Israelites under the law, the need for a season of rest still remains. This is one of the things the law as our schoolmaster can remind us of (Gal 3:24). Whether it is a day, a vacation, a retreat, a sabbatical, or some other form of rest, we need seasons of rest and renewal in our lives. This can help to renew us both physically and spiritually. Without pausing to reflect and give thanks to God who gives us the power to make wealth (Dt 8:18), provides the rain (Ps 147:8), and life (Acts 17:25), we could forget the God from whom all blessing flow. This is what happened to Israel when they became self absorbed and did not use Sabbath as a time to truly reflect and be renewed spiritually (Amos 8:5). Life is more than conducting business, making a profit, or making a paycheck. In fact, Jesus said, "For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing" (Lk 12:23). As important as these are, they are not the focal point of our life. What is life all about? Jesus said, "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (Jn 17:3). Life is knowing God.

This means that all of our work and service is to God. He created us to work and fulfill his purposes (Gen 1:26-28; 2:15). This means that work has inherent value, dignity, and honor. Work is good. Work without rest is not. The pattern in scripture is not work then work, nor is it rest then rest. The pattern in scripture is work then rest.

So, enjoy the holiday weekend. Rest, relax, and renew both physically and spiritually.