Working Hard vs Working Too Much

This past Monday, we celebrated Labor Day, a day in which (supposedly) we are to enjoy a nice day off from work… a kind of a sabbath. But most people took this opportunity to go on a small break filled with fishing poles, small diners, and the like. This got me to thinking that perhaps the American tendency to use Labor Day to “do work” or “do something with family/friend” is also reflected in the Christian church – whereby we consistently ignore God’s commands to rest and focus only on the commands to work (for example 1 Corinthians 5:58).

Now don’t get me wrong. There is a very real command from the Lord for us to do good work (Ephesians 2:10) in light of our salvation in the Lord. Or in other words, only in Christ can we truly do good work which is fulfilling and meaningful, freed from any self-centered ambition or impulse. Indeed Christians are tasked with the command to do good in numerous places (another example Matthew 5:16). For the most part, we have very little difficulty grasping this concept. After all, it is human logic which says that if we have received something, then we should somehow pay it back. And applying this awesome human logic to Christian life and Scripture, most people think along the lines of (1) God has saved me, and therefore (2) I/we must do good works. However good this may sound, it is in the end not a Biblical concept. God has commanded to work and work hard and diligently (Philippians 2:12).

HOWEVER, we must remember that it is our faith in Christ’s finished works, not our own which has saved us (Romans 4:4-5)! What is the Bible’s lesson on works then? I believe the Bible teaches us to work hard (doing good works), however it warns us from working too much. This lesson is pointed out in the Christian life example given by Christ wherein He took a lot of breaks. There are many examples in the Gospels (one of which is Mark 1:35), where Christ seems to get away from the crazy schedule of life and ministry just to relax.

Now there is something that must be said about Christian rest, which is in contrast to worldly rest. Jesus shows us that Christian rest involves renewing the spirit by praying and enjoying the presence of God, NOT in zoning out in front of the TV.

As said before, we the church need to work hard, but refrain from working too much. Again here is an example of quality versus simply quantity. Furthermore, Jesus shows us the lesson of taking breaks and working well at a steady pace.


special shout out to Rev. Sam Kim, assistant pastor at Great Commission Community Church who taught me this valuable lesson so many years ago

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