Does the Sabbath command apply to Christians today and as such, should they not work on Sunday? What if their employer gives them no choice? Is it sin for a Christian to work on Sunday?
Many Christians work on Sunday because their employer requires them to. Think about this. When Christians get out of church and go out to a restaurant to eat, they are expecting the restaurants to be open and fully staffed. They understand that certain goods and services are required seven days a week and for this reason, some Christians have no other choice but to work on Sunday or be terminated. The last thing Christians should do is to judge those who work on Sundays and then go out and expect to have goods and services provided for them on that same day. It would be hypocritical to tell Christians that they should not work on Sundays when we receive the services of others on this day.
I know several Christians who have to work on Sundays and so they attend a Saturday night worship service or the might only be able to attend Wednesday night Bible study. They might possibly have the option of going to Sunday night services too. For circumstances beyond their control, many Christians and of course, non-Christians, have no other choice but to work Sundays. They have to provide for their families and employment options for them may be limited. Guess what? As a pastor and speaking for other pastors, we have to work every Sunday. Even in the Old Testament, the priests had to perform their most important duties on the Sabbath day and there were far more restrictions on keeping the Sabbath for the Jews under the Old Covenant.
Esteeming One Day Over Another
The fact is there are many Christians who have no other choice but to work on Sundays. This includes railroad personnel, turnpike operators, gas stations, restaurant staff, utilities crews, emergency personnel like EMT’s, ambulance drivers, fire fighters, and the police. What if they took the day off at the other end of the 911 emergency lines? What if fire fighters took off Sunday and they just had to let fires burn themselves out or hope that the occupants could escape? What about the Highway Patrol? What if they decided to not work on Sundays? How safe would the roadways be?
Paul understood that many of the Jews still clung to the Old Covenant laws and were judging others for not keeping them. Paul’s reaction should be our reaction. He said in Colossians 2:16, “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.” Some in the church were judging others over things that were done away with by Christ on the cross of Calvary. The same principle applies to clean and unclean foods as it does to which days we can worship God on or what days we may have to work. Paul and the writer of Hebrews said, “They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth” (1 Timoty 4:3) however these were, “only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings–external regulations applying until the time of the new order” (Hebrews 9:10) because these kinds of strange teachings “are of no value” to us today (Hebrews 13:9).
Let Each Esteem Their Own Day
Paul rebuked the Galatians for the very same thing, writing “You are observing special days and months and seasons and years” (Galatians 4:10), so “how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again” (Galatians 4:9)? The Jews could never be saved by the Law just as no Gentile can be (Acts 13:39; Romans 3:20). Don‘t we “know that a man is not justified by observing the law” (Galatians 2:16)?
The legalistic view had reached all the way to Rome as well. This is why Paul told the church at Rome that we “must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat” (Romans 14:3-10). Paul’s conclusion to judging others over the Old Covenant keeping, including restrictions on a worship day, was to tell them to “stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way” (Romans 14:13).
Not Saved by the Law
The Law was not ever intended to save us. God knew that we could not keep the Law. The Law is intended to show us our sin and our inability to live a holy, blameless life. Jesus Christ kept the Law perfectly so we wouldn’t have to. It was and still is impossible for us to even keep the Ten Commandments. I thank God that the keeping the Law is not required for salvation. Not one of us would make it under those requirements. We have all fallen short of the glory of God. There is not one that is righteous in His sight. That’s why we needed a Savior because “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). This is the exact reason why Paul wrote that “whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.” (Romans 14:22). Whatever you believe about what day the Sabbath is, what day you should worship, what day others should worship, and whether a person should work on Sundays or not, we should keep it between ourselves and God because God has accepted us. Should we not also accept others and not judge them over these things?
Looking for more about the Sabbath? Take a look at this article:
Resources – New International Version Bible (NIV) THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. YouTube video “Jesus Messiah” by Chris Tomlin