Summary: God’s boundaries concerning work.
Sabbath R and R
September 3, 2006
30 years ago, it was not uncommon for me to sit in front of the television on Saturday and Sunday mornings with a big bowl of Lucky Charms cereal watching cartoons. I grew up with the Superfriends, Scooby Doo, Tom and Jerry. In one of the cartoons the two main characters at the beginning of the episode would punch into work with their time cards and at the end they would punch out. And during their work day one of them would try to catch, trap, chase, tackle the other. Using ropes, rocks, bombs, trees, cars, missiles or whatever else he could find he did his best to capture the other. But episode after episode, it never worked. And at the end of their workday these two that had worked so hard would simply grab their lunch pails and punch out and go on as if their day job wouldn’t affect them at all. In fact they would say good-bye to each other in a civil manner, only to pick up their chasing, hitting, trapping duties the next day.
The cartoon portrayed this idyllic situation in a sense where work was work.
Work was what you did from dawn to dusk.
It was something you picked up when you came in the morning and left when you exited the doors.
It was something that had no hold on your mind, heart, once you left the job site. And boy how I wish that were true.
Be honest now-
Raise your hands if you’ve thought about your job while sitting here in this service this morning.
If you thought about what you didn’t finish yet
or about what you are facing when you go back.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever stayed after hours to finish a project or go in early to get a jump-start.
Raise your hand if your spouse/your child/ or a friend ever accuse you of being distracted by work, consumed by your job, or totally enmeshed in it?
Work - contrary to what the cartoon portrayed to me as a kid, consumes much of our
And so on this Labor Day, I want not to talk about work, each of you know how to do that well. Really well. But instead, I want to talk with you about the boundaries God has given to us regarding work. Guidelines designed to let us "punch out on the work time clock."
Just as God has given us boundaries about the marriage relationship - no extra-marital affairs.
Just as God has given us boundaries about our tongue - be quick to listen and slow to speak.
Just as God has given us boundaries about chasing after, accumulating and putting your trust in wealth - when he said,
"What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?"
So too has God given us boundaries regarding work. Boundaries meant to keep work in its proper place. Boundaries that are meant for you and me to not become "human doings" but to become the "human beings" that God intended us to be.
The clearest boundary marker or most concise teaching meant to be a guardrail about not allowing work to consume us is found in what we call the 10 Commandments.
The Bible lists these 10 Commandments in two different places. One time in Exodus 20 and a second time in Deuteronomy 5. In each of these lists the commandments/the boundaries are the same. I’ve printed these passages on the back of your bulletin.
In Exodus 20:8 and 9, we read, "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the 7th day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God."
Deuteronomy 5:12 and 13 - uses almost the exact same works. "Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. 6 days you shall labor and do all your work but the 7th day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God."
God’s boundary marker for work is this: work is to be part of our lives, our habit, our routine 6 days a week, but six days a week only. When the 7th day of the week comes - work is not to be part of it.
In a sense - punch in on the time clock on day one and after day 6 punch out. Once day 7 comes around work is not to have its hold on you.
"Yeah - right, Pastor Tim.
That’s easy for you to say. You only work 1 hour a week."
God’s boundary for work is straight forward and clear. Work 6 days but not on the 7th.