[CF Devotionals] 2009-09-09 - Summer Question

2009 #9 ~ Working on Sunday

Deuteronomy 5:12, "Observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy, as the Lord God commanded you." See also Ex. 20:8.

Today's Question: "My question is: Working on Sunday is it a necessity? A father working on a Sunday is trying to earn money not only for himself but for his family. Would this not be a necessity, keeping food on the table, keeping up with mortgage, electricity and other bills is a priority so working on Sunday might be needed. What if the job you have is only on the weekends, for example, I am into ice-skating and if I get hired to a show it would be on the weekends. Would it be wrong to be in a show on Sunday even if I go to church in the morning? It is not wrong for police, doctors and firemen to work on Sunday so why would it be wrong for me."

I will try to do three things here. First, look at the question of the Christian Sabbath in general - should we keep it? Second, look at the first question (works of necessity), and then try to tackle the second question last.

A lot of people who claim to be Christians still do everyday things on Sunday. A look at Rev. 1:10, Acts 20:7, and 1 Cor. 16 shows us that the New Testaments Christians observed the Sabbath on the first day of the week (and called the day "Lord's Day," in honor of Christ), since Christ rose on the first day to the week. This also tells us that they observed the day. If we desire to be Christians, and follow the example given to us in the practice of those in the New Testament, and therefore closest to the time of our Lord, then we will honor the Sabbath, because the Bible tells us that they did.

The first day of the week was observed as a day set apart from the world by almost every follower of Christ through at least the first 1600 years of the history of the church. The idea that "The Sabbath does not apply today," is a modern thought. In the past, Christians abstained from civil business, travel, and worldly talk on the day of worship (Exod. 20:8-11, Isaiah 58:13). As one commentator put it over 200 years ago, those who claim to follow Christ would do well to consider, "how they will reconcile their carnal journeying, their shaving, their cleansing of houses, their idle recreation, their unnecessary sleeping, their idle chat, or clubbing in the tavern, on it (Lord's Day), thereto; or how they will answer for these at the judgement-seat of Christ."

The first question concerning someone who has to work on Sunday to keep hungry mouths fed - .yes, by all means. If it must be done, it must be done. If there are no other options to working on Sunday, and you or your family will starve if you don't, then, of course, work. The question is, "have you exhausted all other options?" Only the individual knows this. Is it possible to take a job that pays less, but allows you to worship in God's house, with God's people? Certainly, if someone is in a car accident on Sunday, they will need medical attention. No one argues with this. There are deeds of necessity. There are things that have to be done, and they have to be done on Sunday - at least sometimes. What we do say, however, is that Sunday football games on TV are not a work of necessity. That's the difference, and I really think it is a matter of conscience, individual conscience, as to what is acceptable to do on Sunday and what is not (See Romans 14:22). I don't have a hard line to draw for anyone as to what is right and what is wrong. Like anything else, if your conscience is bothering you - that's a warning.

Lastly, Ice Skating shows on Lord's Day. God gives us six, and we give Him one, but we do give Him that one day that He has told us to honor. I will not repeat all I said above. You will one day stand before God in your own skin. I don't have to come before the Lord for your transgressions, nor you for mine. If I had to express an opinion, and I will, I don't think that performing for an ice skating show is honoring the Lord's Day, as I see it in the Bible. That is my take on it. You have to balance a couple of things here. You have to consider your desire to do this, but also the honor of God. What about those who travel with you? I hope they will know that you are a follower of Christ. I am sure they will. If you don't honor the Lord's Day as you see it represented in the Bible, then what does that do to your witness? If you believe that you should honor the Lord's Day, by setting it apart for His worship and resting in Christ for the day, then how could you profess your faith to them with any conviction, if you yourself were not following it, as you see it revealed in God's Word? I am not appealing to your duty respecting the day here, but your witness unto the Lord and unto His glory.

It is not a work of necessity - ice-skating - as much as it might seem that it is for you. My suggestion to you, if you have the conviction that the Christian cannot do "everyday" things on our day of worship, is to tell the ice show people of your conviction, and hope they understand and give you Sunday as your day off (I understand that Sunday is a huge performance day for ice shows. It is not likely to go over well.). This does a few things.

  1. It allows you to keep a clean conscience, by not going against your conviction of what Scripture teaches. This, to be honest, is worth more than any job.
  2. It gives you a chance to glorify God, by so doing to testify that His truth is more important to you than any job. If they accept you anyway, then you have a continued chance to witness unto Christ, by having the day off and everyone knowing why. It might be an incredible witnessing tool.
  3. It gives you a chance to trust God. It gives you the opportunity to trust Him, His goodness unto you, whether you land the job or not. Learning to trust the Lord will stand you well in all of life. There will be times in the future, when you are likely to draw on that trust throughout your life.

That is a brief attempt to answer the question that I know is weighing on you. "If I go to a service in the morning - have I still honored the day, and can I then work?" I think if you are asking the question you probably already know what your answer is. You will have to reconcile that yourself. It is not like a firefighter, or policeman, or doctor. Ice-skating is not a work of necessity. People are not likely to die if you don't skate. I so want to say go for it. Have fun! Tour the world if you can. But if they will not respect your faith commitments, and give you the day off that God has set aside for His worship, do you really want to work for them anyway? Where else are they going  to ask you to compromise? And if you compromise here, where else will you?

Soli Deo Gloria,

[email tim] GodRulesTB@aol.com

Editor's Note: The questions in this series are stated in the exact form sent by the readers - unedited, unproofed, in order to remain true to the reader's original wording.