Lord’s Day nourishes confidence in God’s watchful care

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Still life by Abigail Tulis

He will bring justice to the poor of the people; he will save the children of the needy, and will break in pieces the oppressor.

— Psalm 72:4

Thus says the LORD, “Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; nor carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day nor do any work, but hallow the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers. But they did not obey nor incline their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not bear nor receive instruction.”

— Jeremiah 17:21, 22

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? *** Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

— Matthew 6:25-29

The Lord Jesus spoke often against the abuses of the Sabbath day in His attempts to uphold it and make it a day of blessing to God and man. The Bible’s teachings about the Lord’s Day are widely rejected in Chattanooga, even among followers of Christ. Many stores and businesses remain open, many smart people hasten to serve clients or find new ones, many Christians think nothing of entering the stream of commerce after worship.

Because many people think little of God’s providence and His command to rest from their labors, abortionists in Knoxville, Nashville and Atlanta have a fair business from Chattanooga, destroying about 300 Hamilton County babies a year.

This perhaps sounds like a jarring assertion. But let’s dissect the connection between the deaths of the unborn and the disregard of the Day of Rest.

Some women who destroy their children before birth do so with a high-handed pride instilled by feminism and a devotion to women’s rights. They act upon principle, and are not likely moved by conscience.

But many more women probably are driven by quieter, more humdrum motives much less powerful, but still strong enough to suppress feelings of guilt in the short term. These are pressed toward abortion, driven by fear of poverty that destruction of a baby will forestall.

Or so they figure it.

Babies cost money, require time and commitment, demand the reduction of work hours so mom can nurse. The coming of a baby demands a new regime of frugality that in some households already is rigorous. The dreaded arrival of a boy or girl makes people think of their purses, look askance at their depleted checking accounts and glance with dread at the monthly mortgage bill. “I don’t want this baby! Another mouth to feed? No way! A kid will just kill us financially. Honey, what can we do?”

A gracious and providential God is able to drive away such fears if they just apprehend His person and draw on His grace. One way God gives grace is to seize one day a week from our Daytimers.

God adds by subtracting.

A WEEK HAS SEVEN DAYS. Six of them the creator gives us for income-producing and other necessary purposes for the local — even the global — economy. For a half-dozen days we create value for others in productivity, service and earnings. We trade labor for wages. We are in the stream of commerce or private trading. A week brings to us all manner of duty in service to others (capitalism) — and service to ourselves.

In driveways we change oil in cars. At the kitchen table we check homework for children. We work at the home office, collect coupons to save money and watch a little football.

But the first day of the week (the third day of what everyone calls the “weekend”) is not ours; it belongs to a sovereign God. He sets aside for himself the first day of the week, asks of all people their service, adoration, contemplation and thanks in acts of worship, public and private.

The necessity to destroy boys and girls in utero arises readily in the heart of a people who don’t know how to rest.

Lacking confidence in God and His ways, they lack the grace to consider the gift of the Lord’s Day. Rather than cease from their labors and their private thoughts, they are driven to constant shudder of activity and movement, of shopping, phone calls, lawn mowing, putting in work hours, vacuuming, soccer matches and other things which are not sinful of themselves, but which God demands be reserved for the other six days.

Since there is no God, their prosperity rests upon themselves. They have no occasion to jettison the responsibility of breadwinning. They must earn their whole-wheat slices seven days a week and involve themselves in commerce every waking hour, seven days of seven. The future and success is wholly their own doing, and they cannot relinquish any jot or tittle of it. They know the extremes of exhaustion and recreation, seeing no alternative.

PEOPLE WHO REJECT God’s grace have always thought this way. Rationally, they hasten to build their market share and their corporate and personal franchises on the Lord’s Day. They reject worship of God in His house, the church, and often rebel against any ordinance they can get away with so long they can avoid the open shame of scandal or crime.

Should professing Christians share in this compunction to toil without ceasing? Faithful churches that teach the Bible will answer this question in the negative. They will argue, “Give, and you shall receive.” If the Lord’s Day were more thankfully received and used by Christians, we could have a reconstructive and encouraging effect on others.

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Sources. Two helpful books about the Lord’s Day are as follows:  Joseph A. Pipa, The Lord’s Day (Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1997)
Karen Burton Mains, Making Sunday Special (Waco, Texas: Word Books, 1987)