Labor Day Talking Points
Gen. 2:1-3
History of Labor Day:
Every year, on the first Monday in September, Americans observe Labor Day in recognition of the contributions of American workers. In 1882, Peter J. McGuire (general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor) is said to have suggested setting aside a day for a “general holiday for the laboring classes” to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”[1] That same year, a machinist named Matthew Maguire proposed the holiday while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. Both men attended the very first Labor Day parade in New York City on September 5, 1882. In 1894, Labor Day was declared a federal holiday.
 A number of traditions have grown out of the first Labor Day celebrations, including parades and speeches highlighting the economic and civic significance of the holiday. In 1909, the American Federation of Labor convention resolved that the Sunday preceding Labor Day be adopted as “Labor Sunday” and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.
 The American work ethic—which has historically raised the nation’s standard of living and contributed to the greatest production the world has ever known—was biblically inspired. Consequently, it is appropriate that we pay tribute to so many hard-working men and women and celebrate our accomplishments, under God, with a day of rest.
 Since it is Labor Day, we will talk about balancing work and worship. Look with me at Genesis 2:1-3 (CSB):
 So the heavens and the earth and everything in them were completed. On the seventh day God had completed his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it he rested from all his work of creation.
 This passage of Scripture is the basis for the fourth of the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20:8-11: 
 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: You are to labor six days and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female servant, your livestock, or the resident alien who is within your city gates. For the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.
 In order to be emotionally, physically, and spiritually well, is to follow God’s formula of balancing work and worship. Work and Worship. Now there are a couple of things I want you to see as we study this passage and its application to our lives in the fourth commandment. First of all, there are two time periods we need to consider, and then there are two timeless principles that we need to heed.
 A. Sabbath Day: In the Old Testament (OT), at the time that the 10 Commandments were given to the children of Israel, the Sabbath day was Friday sundown until Saturday sundown. This was the last/seventh day of the week. But most New Testament (NT) Christians do not worship on the seventh day, we worship on the first day (Sunday/the Lord’s day). Why is that?  
 In the OT, the Sabbath day had a particularly Jewish character to it. In Exodus 31:12-14, God said the Sabbath was a sign between Himself and the children of Israel and that those who violate it should be put to death. There were many laws relating to the Sabbath.
 B. Lord’s Day: Most Christian denominations worship on the first day of the week. You might ask: “Why don’t we worship on the day God chose in Exodus? What right do we have to change the day of rest and worship?” None whatsoever. But if the Lord of the Sabbath chooses to change the day, He has every right to do so.
 Here are some Scriptures demonstrating why Christians worship on Sunday and not Saturday:
 Jesus rose triumphantly from the grave on the first day of the week (Matt. 28:1).
 The risen Lord Jesus appeared five times to His disciples on the first day of the week (Matt. 28:9-10; Luke 24; John 20:19-29).
 Jesus gave the Great Commission on the first day of the week (John 20:21).
 Jesus imparted the Holy Spirit on the first day of the week (John 20:22).
 The early church gathered on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).
 Paul said we are to set aside our tithes and offerings on the first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:2).
 John on the isle of Patmos was inspired to write the book of Revelation and thus complete the canon of Scripture on the first day of the week (Rev. 1:10). John said: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.” What day is the Lord’s Day? It is the day that Jesus rose from the dead. It is Sunday, the first day of the week.
 So there was a glorious transition in the pages of the NT from the OT Sabbath to the NT Lord’s Day. The Sabbath day primarily celebrated the finished work of creation. The Lord’s Day celebrates the finished work of redemption. The Sabbath day commemorates the beginning of natural life, and the Lord’s Day commemorates the beginning of eternal life. The Sabbath day celebrated the work of God’s hands (where God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them), but the Lord’s Day celebrates the work of God’s heart (where He sent His Son into the world that through Him we might be saved). The Sabbath day was given to Israel, and the Lord’s Day was given to the church.
 So, those who insist on keeping the OT Sabbath are living on the OT side of Calvary. In Colossians 2, Paul addresses those who would have us keep the OT Sabbath:
 He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it away by nailing it to the cross. … Therefore, don’t let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of what was to come; the substance is Christ.
 The point is that the OT Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday is no longer binding. The Bible says that it was merely a shadow of something to come. And thank God He has come—His name is Jesus. So for the Christian, the Sabbath day has been superseded by the Lord’s Day.
 1. Work 
 The book of Genesis opens with God at work, creating everything that was made. But on the sixth day, when God created mankind, He placed the stewardship of the earth into their hands.
 Some people think of work as being part of the consequences of mankind’s sin, but it is not. Yes, work was made more difficult because of sin (Gen. 3:17-19), but work is a part of God’s original plan and purpose for us. Even before sin entered the world, God gave Adam a job and put him to work in the Garden of Eden: “The LORD God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it” (Gen. 2:15). It shouldn’t be all that surprising that work is part of God’s plan for us, since mankind is made in the image of God, and God Himself is at work.
 The fourth of the 10 Commandments is a call to work and a call to rest and worship: “You are to labor six days and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. You must not do any work” (Ex. 20:9-10a). Some are working seven days out of seven and need to learn to rest and dedicate time to worshipping God, and some need to learn to work heartily unto the Lord (Col. 3:23) on the days He has given us to work.
 Joseph taught Jesus how to work with His hands. The Bible tells us He was a carpenter, a builder by trade and was known as such even after He began His ministry:
 “Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And aren’t his sisters here with us?” (Mark 6:3a).

 Jesus worked with wood and stone. He very likely had splinters in his fingers, callouses on his hands, a strong back, and a muscular build. But his ultimate mission was much more than construction. He came to liberate captives, to seek and save the lost. He said in John 5:17: “My Father is still working, and I am working also.”
 The Lord Jesus sets the example for work. And the men He called were working men; some got up before dawn to cast nets into the Sea of Galilee to catch fish to sell. The apostle Paul worked as a tentmaker, even when he was on his missionary journeys:
 For you remember our labor and hardship, brothers and sisters. Working night and day so that we would not burden any of you, we preached God’s gospel to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how devoutly, righteously, and blamelessly we conducted ourselves with you believers. (1 Thess. 2:9-10)
 This work ethic is evident throughout the Word of God. If only it was throughout America, also!
 2. Underworked. 
 1 Timothy 5:8 says: “But if anyone does not provide for his own family, especially for his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Other translations say “worse than an infidel” or “heathen.” Elsewhere, 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says, “If anyone isn’t willing to work, he should not eat.” Although it is right to meet the needs of those who simply cannot provide for themselves and their families, the Bible advises us not to enable the slothfulness of an able-bodied person who refuses to work. Unfortunately, our American welfare system is supporting many people who could be working but won’t.
 If we as a nation do not rediscover the work ethic that is mandated in these verses, in the creation account, and in the fourth of the 10 Commandments, it will not go well with us. It doesn’t take a financial wizard to know that when there are more people taking money who refuse to work than people making money by their hard work, we are in serious trouble.
 Listen, you cannot multiply wealth by dividing it, and the government cannot give anything that it does not first take away. What one man receives without working for it, another man must work for without receiving anything for it. And few things will kill a people’s work ethic, morale, and initiative faster than for half to get the idea that they don’t need to work because the other half will feed them, and for the other half to get the idea that it does no good to work since somebody else will receive the reward of their labor.
 Four hundred years ago, the first permanent English colony at Jamestown, Virginia, tried a socialist system. The Virginia Company back in London owned the land and all its produce, and the settlers got an equal share out of the common store of food. Yet, this system destroyed the incentive to work. Many Jamestown settlers looked for gold or bowled in the streets rather than working in the fields because they knew they had their share of food coming regardless. Predictably, the food ran out, and many starved and died. In less than a year, the colony had dwindled from 104 to 38 souls. After another boatload from England arrived to bolster their numbers, Captain John Smith took over leadership of the failing colony in September 1608 and declared:
[T]hink not that either my pains, nor the [investors’] purses, will ever maintain you in idleness and sloth… [T]he greater part must be more industrious, or starve…, you must obey this now for a Law, that he that will not work shall not eat (except by sickness he be disabled) for the labors of thirty or forty honest and industrious men shall not be consumed to maintain an hundred and fifty idle loiterers….[2]  
 Notice that Captain Smith decreed: “He that will not work shall not eat.” Sound familiar? It’s from the aforementioned Bible verse (2 Thess. 3:10). Under Smith’s firm leadership, the death toll dropped, relations with the natives stayed mostly at an uneasy truce, the fort was repaired and expanded, crops were planted, a well dug, trees cut into clapboards, and products such as pitch, tar, and soap ash were produced for shipment back to England. Eventually, the socialist plan was ditched as plots of land were granted, contributions to the common store decreased, and every man enjoyed the fruit of his labor. As a result, production exploded, and the Virginia colony became wildly successful.
 In Plymouth, Massachusetts, the second permanent English colony, Governor William Bradford records that the plantation was floundering under the economic provisions of the contract they had made with Thomas Weston back in England, which imposed a socialist/collectivist system on the settlement. In this contract, all property was owned by the company, and all produce had to go into a common store, from which each individual would receive an equal ration, regardless of how much he had contributed. Any excess produce belonged to the investors.
 Also, the Pilgrims’ homes that they had built and all land that they had cleared were company property. Under this system, the people received no reward for individual effort, and the colony was unable to produce enough food.
 Not only did socialism fail to provide for the people’s basic needs, but in Governor Bradford’s estimation, it was also counter to God’s plan for mankind. In William Bradford’s book, Of Plimoth Plantation, he wrote: “If it did not cut relations God established among men, it did at least diminish and take mutual respect that should be preserved among them.” He added, “Seeing all men have corruption in them, God in His wisdom saw another course fitter for them.”[3] Because of man’s fallen state, man cannot be expected to labor for no reward, which, in Bradford’s view, is why the God of the Bible rewards man for his good works.
 The Pilgrim leadership—after much discussion about whether it was right to ignore the company charter that they had signed—voted to abolish the socialist system, and as Bradford records, they “assigned every family a parcel of land.” He observed that “This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content.”[4]
 The elimination of the socialistic system with its communal property in favor of private ownership created prosperity. In fact, the Pilgrims eventually found themselves with more food than they could use. They set themselves up as a trading post, exchanging their surplus corn to the Native Americans for beaver skins, which they shipped back to England to the enormous delight of the investors. When news of the colony’s success began circulating, more ships arrived with more settlers.
 At first, Bradford fretted that they would not be able to feed them all, but Plymouth’s economic system easily absorbed all who wanted to settle there. Bradford reflected: “Instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed to rejoicing in the hearts of many, for which they blessed God.”[5] Bradford’s decision to pursue the biblical principles of works and rewards, rather than the collectivist mandate in their corporate charter, enabled the Pilgrims to purchase their land outright from the company, thus more than adequately fulfilling their part of the bargain.
 Our elected officials have created a class of people who are dependent on government.
 Our welfare system, as it is currently allowed to operate, creates and perpetuates poverty. How does it perpetuate poverty? Children in welfare homes, knowing nothing else but dependence on the government, will often grow up to depend on the government.
 God’s solution to our broken welfare system is work. Find a job for every able-bodied person and take those who refuse off the welfare roll. Some will say that’s not compassionate. Well, the Bible says that God is love, the Bible says that the Lord is gracious and full of compassion, and our loving, gracious, compassionate God gave mankind a job and said “You are to labor six days and do all your work.” He knows what’s best for His creation, and work is part of it.
 3. Overworked
 The word Sabbath means to cease, to stop, and to rest. And that is a word that workaholics need to hear. For the Bible says: “Remember the Sabbath day.” What are we to remember? Remember that the Sabbath is God’s gift to you. Jesus said in Mark 2:27: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” The Sabbath was given for your benefit.
 Now remember, the Sabbath did not begin with the 10 Commandments; the Sabbath began with creation. God worked six days, and He rested on the seventh or Sabbath day. Did God rest because He was tired? No. The psalmist says that God “does not slumber or sleep” (121:4). Isaiah says, “The Lord is the Everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never becomes faint or weary....” (40:28). God never gets tired from His work. Why, then, did He rest?
 I’m glad you asked. He rested as a divine example to all humanity. And God’s example teaches us this: that there is a divinely engineered rhythm for your body. The manufacturer of your body has given you a maintenance schedule that must be followed for peak performance. Your body and mind need to rest one day in seven, and your soul and spirit need to be refreshed one day in seven for peak performance.
 So God has told us at the beginning of creation what production analysts have only recently discovered. In fact, a Stanford University study shows that after about 50 hours of work that concentration levels drop, mistakes increase, and morale takes a nosedive; therefore, productivity suffers.[6] Even our physical performance is affected. Workaholics top the charts in work-related disorders such as nervous breakdowns, high blood pressure, and premature heart attacks. No one can continually break God’s maintenance schedule and keep his physical, mental, and emotional health.
 After the French Revolution, when atheism was at its peak, the French tried to abolish the Lord’s Day. They basically concluded that it was wasteful to rest one day out of seven, so they would rest one day out of 10 to achieve greater productivity. The result? Their productivity took a nose dive, and their goals were never met. So they reverted back to resting one day in seven.[7] The point is this: if atheists can figure out that resting one day in seven is best for humans, why can’t Christians do that?
 And what is true for us physically is also true spiritually. Supernatural strength comes from supernatural rest. In Psalm 62:11, David said: “God has spoken once; I have heard this twice: strength belongs to God.” It is a medical fact that you can sleep and not be refreshed. You can sleep and not rest. True rest and strength come from God. Not from pills or exotic vacations but from God.
 Isaiah 40:29-31 says of God:
 He gives strength to the faint and strengthens the powerless. Youths may become faint and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not faint. 
 With God, you’ll have the supernatural ability to climb the highest mountain, defeat the invincible foe, sing praises in the valley of the shadow of death, walk through the fire without being burned, and run and not grow weary. God, give us that kind of strength as we rest in You!
 4. Worship
 How do we get that kind of strength? David said: “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let’s go to the house of the Lord’” (Psalm 122:1). You get it when you come to God’s house and worship Him. When we come to God’s house and get our physical, emotional, and spiritual batteries recharged from the throne of grace and the living Word of God, we can live a victorious life on Monday, and the world will take note that we have been with Jesus! We will run and not grow weary when the Lord renews our strength!
 Hebrews 10:25 says not to neglect gathering together with the church, but to encourage one another, especially as we see the day of the Lord approaching. When Deuteronomy 5:15 says we are to “keep” or observe the Sabbath day, it means more than just remember. It means to get up physically and gather with God’s people. It means to praise Him and worship Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. It means that because He is our Creator, Provider, Protector, and Redeemer that this ought to be His day!
 People used to tell me, “Sunday is my only day off.” But it is not your day; it’s God’s day, all day. It belongs to Him! Miss a Sunday or two and see what that does to your walk with God, attitude, and spiritual health. Sunday is the day we gather to worship the Lord and recharge our spiritual batteries so we can take on the week ahead. Jesus said: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them” (Matt. 18:20).
 When the army of God comes together on the Lord‘s Day and His mighty presence comes down, and His Spirit fills us, His love compels us, and His power energizes us, then we can march out of this place clothed with the full armor of God and the fight is on! And the Bible says that we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us! We need to observe the Lord‘s Day by stopping our work and starting our worship! Because I want to remind you that Lord‘s Day is not our day; it is God‘s day, and He deserves the glory, honor, and the majesty worthy of His majestic name!
 Let me reason with you for a minute as we close. What do we call hunting, fishing, boating, hiking, golfing, camping, swimming, and gaming? We call those things recreational activities, right? Have you ever thought about the word recreation? It means re-creation. It means doing those things that re-energize and revitalize the whole person. That‘s what makes the Lord’s Day a day of re-creation. It is a day when the lost place their trust in Jesus as Savior and pledge their lives to follow Him as Lord, becoming new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a day when broken hearts are mended and find the peace that passes understanding. It is a day when those burdened with guilt are forgiven and set free. It is a day when God comes down and makes Himself known among His people. It is the Lord’s Day, and there’s no other day like it! Six days we are to work, but on the first day of the week, we are to gather with God’s people to worship Him and to experience Him in all of His glory!
 Jesus said: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you….” What? Rest. (Matt. 11:28) And that word rest can be correctly rendered “Sabbath.” Listen, I keep the Sabbath. I keep it 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year by resting in Jesus Christ, who is my Sabbath. In the OT, you had to work six days before you rested. But in the NT, you rest on the first day and then you work. That’s grace. You come to Christ by faith and rest in His salvation before you work and serve Him. Your first day needs to be a day of rest because your works cannot save you. Are you resting in Jesus? Are you resting in the finished work of Calvary? You can. Simply stop trying and start trusting. Why not trust Him right now?
[1] “History of Labor Day,” U.S. Department of Labor, accessed August 31, 2022,
laborday/history. This is the source of the history that follows.
[2] John M. Thompson, ed., The Journals of Captain John Smith: A Jamestown Biography (Washington, D.C.: National
Geographic, 2007), 139.
[3] Caleb H. Johnson, ed., Of Plymouth Plantation: Along with the full text of the Pilgrim’s Journals for their first year at       Plymouth (Philadelphia: Xlibris, 2006), 172.
[4] Ibid, 171.
[5] Ibid, 181-82.
[6] Bob Sullivan, “Memo to work martyrs: Long hours make you less productive,” CNBC, January 26, 2015, John Pencavel, “The Productivity of Working Hours,” Stanford University, April 2014, 
[7] French Revolutionary Calendar: When France tried to change time,” Snippets of Paris (blog), accessed August 31, 2022,