Sermon outtake about Sabbath from “Your Work Is Calling, Part 2”

February 13, 2013

I’ll post last Sunday’s sermon by tomorrow. In the meantime, here is a section of my sermon from last week that I cut out in the interest of time and, you know, not boring you.

If you were there, you may remember that I was talking about how our work often kills us in slow motion—we suffer stress-related illnesses for which we take prescription drugs, and we fail to take care of our bodies. Originally, I intended to follow this with the following discussion of the importance of Sabbath rest. I especially like the next to last paragraph.

And the solution that the Bible prescribes for this problem is Sabbath. Remember last week: God designed us to work most of the time—six days on, one day off. This is why so many able-bodied and healthy people have such a hard time with retirement. It goes against our built-in programming. That’s why I’m pleased that so many retired people in our church use retirement as an opportunity to do other kinds of good work—not to stop working; not to live a life devoted to leisure. That’s as unnatural as the being a workaholic!

For us Christians, Sabbath isn’t so much a day of the week that we have to rest and do nothing. It’s more like an attitude toward life. We can enjoy Sabbath rest any time. If we can’t enjoy Sabbath rest, then that’s a symptom that work has gotten out of control.

In his recent book about work, pastor Timothy Keller says the following about Sabbath rest:

Sabbath is… a declaration of our freedom. It means you are not a slave—not to your culture’s expectations, your family’s hopes, your medical school’s demands, not even to your own insecurities. [“Your own insecurities.” I like that—it’s like Tim Keller knows me!] It is important that you learn to speak this truth to yourself with a note of triumph—otherwise you will feel guilty for taking time off, or you will be unable to truly unplug.[†]

Do any of us feel guilty leaving work behind and resting?

See, here’s the thing: We don’t enjoy Sabbath rest only after the work is finished, because, if you haven’t noticed, the work is never finished. And we don’t enjoy Sabbath rest only after we’ve tied up every loose end because, if you haven’t noticed, there are always loose ends that need to be tied up. And we don’t enjoy Sabbath rest only after we’ve found other people to handle our work in our absence, because if you haven’t noticed, no one can do your job as good as you can!

Sabbath rest is not a matter of trusting in ourselves or trusting in other people to get all the work done; it’s a matter of trusting in God alone. Remember: the Lord is in charge our work. And the Lord isn’t a slavedriver. He came to set us free.

Timothy Keller, Every Good Endeavor (New York: Dutton, 2012), 236.

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