I remember a story of a seminary professor who used to come in every Monday morning and would write TGIM on the chalkboard in big block letters.  This acronym stood for, “Thank God It’s Monday”.  It stood in direct opposition to the popular (and worldly) expression of TGIF, or “Thank God It’s Friday”.  It’s an expression that is so common in our world today that there’s even a popular restaurant chain in America simply known as TGI Friday’s.  It reveals to us that we have a rather warped view of work in our day and age, and sadly, this view has found it’s way into our churches.  Here’s what it means for most Christians…

  1. Like the rest of the world, we wake up Monday morning dreading going to work.
  2. We long for relief from our grueling work schedules.
  3. We seek to find this relief in the pleasures of this life such as hobbies, weekend getaways, vacations, etc.

Now there’s nothing inherently sinful in any of these longings, but if they’re not dealt with properly and Biblically, then they can and do lead us to sin.  So we must consider that the Bible speaks very clearly to us about work.  Here’s what it says…

  1. Work has been cursed by sin.  Read Genesis 3:17-19 and you’ll see this very clearly.  What once was enjoyable has now become anything but.  Work is now burdensome, frustrating, often times unrewarding, and it seeks to consume us and redefine who we are as human beings.  If you have the TGIF syndrome, this is the reason why.
  2. Work is necessary.  2 Thess. 3:10 says, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”  I remember talking to a neighbor a year or so ago who worked in a very physical job in Baltimore Harbor.  He had torn his ACL and was laid up for a month to recover.  He said that at first the idea of sitting on the couch all day watching Netflix sounded like a dream come true.  But after about 3 days, he admitted, it became absolutely unbearable.  Why?  Because we need to work.  We were created as workmen, and if we’re not working, we’re not really human.  So, we must work.
  3. Rest is necessary.  The main reason that TGIF is so popular is because it’s a half truth.  It appeals to our need to rest.  So we work hard so that we can party hard on the weekend.  But the problem with this is that a) resting in earthly pleasures does not provide the kind of rest we need, b) neither TGIF or ‘work hard/party hard’ are Biblical principles, and c) without the proper kind of rest, we cannot perform the proper kind of work.

When questioned about resting on Sunday, and the proper way it’s to be done, Jesus says in Mark 2:27, “…The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”  Essentially what Jesus is doing here is tearing down the TGIF mentality of work.  We are not to work so that we can rest (TGIF), but we are to rest so we can work (TGIM).  When we start to get this way of thinking into our minds, only then will we start to see work becoming more and more enjoyable as it becomes more productive, and more satisfying.  It becomes more productive because you’re better rested if/when you take Sunday off, and it becomes more satisfying because you’re reminding yourself that you work for Jesus Christ first and foremost rather than for men (Col. 3:23).

One last thing on Sunday rest and work.  Years ago there was a commercial for a business credit card where they profiled an elderly business owner who’d invested decades of his life into his work.  At the end of the commercial he looked into the camera and said, “because this business is who I am.”  Even as a child I can remember thinking how sad this commentary was on life and work.  But this is the reality of working in a fallen world.  Our work seeks to define our identity and it can and does often seek to become who we think that we are.  Here’s how proper Sunday rest helps re-orientate us…

Recently at Cushendall Church we implemented some major changes into our order of worship.  We’ve started using a historical form of worship that comes from our Reformed heritage.  We use this pattern because it helps us define who we truly are as Christians.  It begins with a Call to Worship.  Who are we?  We are people who have been called into God’s presence to worship him.  There is no higher priority in the Christian life than this, to worship God.  So we sing praise to him for welcoming us into his presence. Next we pray a Prayer of Adoration to God.  Who are we?  We are people who are loved by God and who can love like God loves.  Then we read from God’s Law.  This convicts us of sin, points us to Christ, and shows us how to live.  Who are we?  We are people who continue to sin and are in dire need of help.  We then confess our sins to God in prayer.  Who are we?  We are repentant sinners in need of forgiveness.  Then comes my favourite part of the service, the Assurance of Pardon.  Here we read a passage of Scripture that reminds us of God’s great mercy.  Who are we?  We are sinners who have confessed our sins to God and have received his mercy only through the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  We then sing praise to God again for this glorious good news of the Gospel.  We then collect our offering.  Who are we?  We are workers who work, in part, so that we can give back to God from whom all blessings come.  We then pray Intercessory prayers for our congregation and the rest of the world.  Who are we?  We are people dependent on God for all things.  We then sing a Psalm.  Who are we?  We are people who sing God’s praises back to him.  Then comes the Prayer of Illumination where we ask for the Holy Spirit to give us insight into God’s Word.  Who are we?  We are revelation-receivers who live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.  Then God’s Word is preached to us.  Who are we?  We are people that need continual instruction, correction, and encouragement to keep putting off sin in our lives and to continue growing in grace.  We sing a closing hymn and receive the benediction.  Who are we?  We are people who have peace with God because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross.

So you see how worship is an integral part of Sunday rest.  You see how it re-orients us and transforms us into who we truly are, children of God, created by God, to worship God and to work for Him.


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