Let me start of by saying that I am a Christian and these are my views about Christians working on Sunday. My views probably don’t match up exactly with every person who reads this article, and that’s okay! I encourage you to discuss and share your thoughts below in a respectful way.
I want to address the issue of Christians working on Sunday. As you read, you’ll notice that I refer to Sunday as the Sabbath. I understand that we can spend hours arguing the semantics of the word Sabbath and never agree on which day we’re talking about (Saturday/Sunday). For the sake of discussion, let’s define the Sabbath as a ‘weekly day of rest’ and for many Christians like myself, that day is Sunday.
Before we can answer the question, I think we need to look at three aspects of the Sabbath: the importance, the intent, and the application.
The Importance of the Sabbath
Exodus 20:8-11 (NIV) sums it up nicely here:
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping 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, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Here we find the concept of keeping the Sabbath holy as it refers to God taking a day to rest after He created the earth in six days. (Whether you believe that it was a literal six days or not, the point remains that God took the seventh ‘day’ and rested.) The idea of taking time to rest and reflect with God is so important that God made it the fourth of the Ten Commandments.
The first point to realize is that the Sabbath is important – otherwise God wouldn’t have made a point to make it a day of rest and command us to honor it. Did God need to rest? Doubtful. But I do think that He wanted to make a point for us to understand the importance of taking a day of the week to rest. Working seven days in a row week after week isn’t healthy. Our bodies weren’t designed for it and God plainly instructs us to take a break – because it’s that important.
The Intent of the Sabbath
One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” – Mark 2:23-28 (NIV)
Unfortunately, the Pharisees had a legalistic view of the Sabbath but Jesus revealed the real purpose or intent of the Sabbath: The Sabbath was for man – not man for the Sabbath. The Sabbath was intended to be a time for us to take time out of our busy schedules and reflect on the good things in our life – our relationship with God, our family and our friends.
The fact that Jesus’ disciples picked some grain on the Sabbath doesn’t mean they were in violation of the idea that “Christians shouldn’t work on Sunday.” In fact, the disciples were doing the very thing the Sabbath was intended for – growing in your relationship with the Lord and spending time with your friends and family. It’s about stepping away from the things that hold our thoughts ‘hostage’ all week and taking just one day to rest and recover so that we’re rejuvenated for the next week’s work.
The Application of the Sabbath
I’ve heard people say, “Okay, if everyone ‘honored’ the Sabbath, what would we do if someone needed surgery and all the doctors said ‘sorry it’s the Sabbath, I don’t work on Sunday.’”
To that, I say let’s look at how Jesus responded to the Pharisees.
Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. – Matthew 12:9-13 (NIV)
Jesus clearly said that it is lawful to “do good on the Sabbath.” We cannot become like the Pharisees who loved to accuse people of dishonoring the Sabbath with every move they make on the “day of rest.” It’s just silly to think that a Christian today would refuse to do something because it is the Sabbath and they don’t work. No, the point is that we take a day to separate ourselves from the stress we endure throughout the week and stop to rest and enjoy the good things that God has provided for us.
Not working on Sunday can be especially challenging for entrepreneurs, but there is value in taking time to recoup your thoughts and spending quality time with your family. I know that I am going to make a concentrated effort to make Sunday a day of rest where I can enjoy the things God has made without stressing over the work that I have on my plate.
What do you think? Do you think Christians should work on Sundays? Leave a comment!
This article was originally published on October 26, 2010 at FaithandFinance.org.