By David Tulis
Two national companies care about the Lord’s Day. Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby were founded by Christian people mindful about God’s claim on the first day of the week. That appears on your calendar as Sunday. But it is more accurately known as the Christian Sabbath or the Lord’s Day because these usages reflect God’s propriety in it.
Which do you suppose has more care about the Lord’s Day — local economy or national? Local economy, I would think, especially in the South, where owners are more influenced by Christianity.
Recently mailboxes in Chattanooga received a card from Office Depot touting “star teacher savings Sunday,” with a kickback in reward points. “Shop and save every Sunday in February.” My wife, Jeannette, a homeschooling mom, has a rewards card from the retailer that has yearly sales of about F$17 billion, employs about 66,000 people and has 2,200 stores in 59 countries.
She handed me the card with a touch of disdain. “This disturbs me.”
Why the Lord’s Day matters
In Chattanooga commerce roars ahead on Sunday, though many businesses open at 1 p.m. People shop and eat out. Storekeeps have staff on hand and menus ready. Locally owned COS Business Products won’t be there to serve you, though Office Depot will.
The Lord’s Day benefit is a blessing that God’s people are best equipped to enjoy. It is a function of the sovereignty and providence of God to give a day of rest, and a sign of His people believing in these two aspects of His character. God’s people take a day off from their usual thoughts, deeds and necessities to focus on their creator in public and private worship. They are confident they will survive and prosper even though they “lose” one day a week in their business and employments.
National and local economy, to prosper, recognize the hand of providence in all human affairs. They recognize that blessings of profit, growth, greater service to the marketplace come not solely by their own efforts, but God Himself. Their resting on the Lord’s Day is their making their claim upon the promise of God’s blessing. For local economy to prosper, I suggest, you and others who bearing high responsibility should rest — for your benefit and God’s glory.
A summary of biblical argument
Honoring the Lord’s Day is a duty to God, as the commandment for it falls in the first table of the law of God, the fourth commandment.
The commandment begins with the word “remember” because we are so prone to forget and to not plan out the day of rest. Planning to rest requires our own providence.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested in the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath-day and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:8-11)
Every law of God contains duty and prohibition. Question No. 117 of the Westminster larger catechism summarizes the duty of God’s children as follows:
The sabbath or Lord’s day is to be sanctified by an holy resting all the day, not only from such works as are at all times sinful, but even from such worldly employments and recreations as are on other days lawful; and making it our delight to spend the whole time (except so much of it as is to be taken up in works of necessity and mercy) in the public and private exercises of God’s worship: and, to that end, we are to prepare our hearts, and with such foresight, diligence, and moderation, to dispose and seasonably dispatch our worldly business, that we may be the more free and fit for the duties of that day. (The biblical citations include Exodus 26:25-28; Nehemiah 13:15-22; Jeremiah 27:21, 22; Matthew 12:1-13; Isaiah 43:13 and numerous others)
The commandment forbids “all careless, negligent, and unprofitable performing of [duties], and being weary of them; all profaning the day by idleness, and doing that which is in itself sinful; and by all needless works, words, and thoughts, about our worldly employments and recreations” (Question 119).
The Protestant divines in their summary of Christian doctrine on this point say the commandment is especially directed toward governors of families and other superiors, who have a duty to keep the day of rest themselves and “to see that it be observed by all those that are under their charge; and because they are prone ofttimes to hinder them by employments of their own.”
In other words, men who risk their livelihoods and futures by investing in their own businesses are often tempted to worry and to be too careful for the prosperity of their enterprises, and to not let success rest in God’s hands.
Shopping this Sunday may bring my wife and me reward points, but I think we’ll abstain for now and think upon another country.
Source: Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, 1648, online here.