a man working on a construction site
How many days does God want us to work?

The following guest sermon was submitted by Rev. Chris Ackerman. All ULC Ministers are invited to contribute their own sermons for consideration/publication. To submit a sermon, please email it to sermons@ulc.org.

By now, you’ve likely heard about the ongoing United Auto Workers Union strike in Detroit. While the UAW is largely pushing for an increase in wages, much discourse has centered around one of their other requests: a 32-hour, four-day work week. 

That demand in particular has sparked debate among religious scholars and others about the biblical case for only working four days a week. 

So, what does the Bible say? If we look at things through a biblical lens, is there a case for a shortened workweek? Is God in favor of His flock working fewer hours, or does He want people to find fulfillment in their labor?

It depends on which philosophy you embrace. I will examine both sides of the argument.

Is a Short Work Week a Gift From God?

Studies show that workers who currently work a four-day week report a greater work-life balance, giving them more time to pursue their passions and hobbies, as well as spend time with family.

Isn’t that precisely what God wants for us? Could a shortened work week actually be a gift from God?

More importantly, with an additional day off, we could more easily fulfill God’s desires for us.

God wants us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”(Mark 12:30): additional time off could be spent growing spiritually, praying to God, studying scripture, and sharing the word.

God wants us to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31): with more time and energy from an extra day off, we could more easily volunteer and help the needy, to invest in our communities and help lift up our neighbors.

With a shortened work week, the faithful would have more time to live up to God’s expectations for us, and to fulfill His two greatest commandments. 

Does God Support the Long Work Week?

On the other hand, some biblical scholars argue that there is actually evidence in the Bible that God supports a longer work week. As Genesis tells us, God worked for six days when creating the heavens and the earth, and only on the seventh day did He rest.

Rest is important to God, but so too is the value of labor, at work and at home. In Exodus 20:9-10, God grants us six full days in which to work, reserving only one for rest and worship:

“Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates."

The Bible is also highly critical of sloth and laziness. One need only look at Proverbs to see God’s opinion on the matter, where it is laid out rather plainly that laziness is sinful, and a lackadaisical soul will lead one to poverty:

“The soul of the lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.” (Proverbs 13:4)

“The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor.” (Proverbs 21:25)

“As a door turns on its hinges, so does the lazy man on his bed.” (Proverbs 26:14)

Even if you believe that “work” as defined in the Bible encompasses labor like yard and house work, then the five-day work week still leaves us with one extra day in which to accomplish those tasks.

With constant advances in automation and some labor unions pushing for it, the four-day work week is now a mainstream conversation.

But is there a biblical basis for it? 


  1. Geoffrey C. Olive's Avatar Geoffrey C. Olive

    Stupid question!👎

    1. Timothy C Stone's Avatar Timothy C Stone

      Thank you. It's like asking if God was a union worker. Really? Do we really think God micromanages human affairs?

      1. Rev Mark D's Avatar Rev Mark D

        Really, I thought the question was whether God was French.

  1. Paul Johnson's Avatar Paul Johnson

    Here we go again acting as though we are God. Why do we as people feel that it is our responsibility to act like we know what God would do? First of all what can you are I do to get goody points with God? Did He are did He not create us not for us to to try and lord it over others but understand that He knows whats going on and how it will end. Who was first He or Ye? He created us to have fellowship with us whether we want to are not. I didn't say it was right for us to deny His existing but I also know that it time for many to stop acting like they know exactly what God is doing. How log has He been around are should we ask the question that God ask Job. Where were you when I hung the universe? A lot of people think we get to choose our friends how foolish. Did He are did He not ask us to LOVE OUR neighbor then I guess that takes away the right to think that we get to pick and choose; I think the program is already laid out. God really doesn't need us but we sure do need HIM. That might be why Jesus said that He was the Way and the only Way. Then it would stand to good reason that we need to get in His Way not in His way. We need all the help we can get from Him. As Always Be Blessed!!

    1. Rev Mark D's Avatar Rev Mark D

      Why not act as though we are god, it's true isn't it, we made God.

  1. Merlin's Avatar Merlin

    “God” is the energy we have and use. It’s up to us to decide how to use it to create our reality. “God” lets us succeed or fail to learn. That’s evolution. Time spent in any endeavor is the time spent regardless if it was 32 hours or 52 hours. To the employer, if the work can done in 32 hours, more work can be done in 40. That’s capitalism.

    1. Robert Edward Szekely's Avatar Robert Edward Szekely

      That's soulless, unethical capitalism, which is self-devouring. Other countries have tried 32-hour workweeks at fulltime pay rates and have found both increased productivity, increased worker satisfaction, and lowered workplace stress. It's a win-win scenario for all involved: robber barons be damned! :)

    2. Rev Mark D's Avatar Rev Mark D

      Merlin, you're opening sentence is exactly on the money. Well said!

  1. Rev Mark D's Avatar Rev Mark D

    Thank you for submitting this incisive And timely fact evidence of what God wants. Certainly God wants a four-day work week, no question, no question at all, so certain that there's even no need for faith. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

    1. Rev. Donut's Avatar Rev. Donut

      Yeah, that guys rap was well written and insightful. "God" allegedly gave everybody free will. You have to solve your own problems with that free will.

      IMO, the UAW should get what they deserve. They deserve to build more gas cars. That's it.

      But, a 32 hour work week for 40 hours of pay is stupid and the auto manufactures will not go for it. Why would they pay forty hours of pay for 32 hours of half a ss UAW work?

      That is typical for unions. They are constantly complaining, all problems and no solutions except to holler "gimmie mo money". Their answer to everything is "more money".

      Let them stay on strike. Some of them might remember what a long strike does. Ask the "former" workers at Eastern Airlines what a long strike does.

      1. Rev Mark D's Avatar Rev Mark D

        Donut, you make unusually good sense for someone who responds to a themonastery.org blog question. Rock on!

  1. Rev. Barry's Avatar Rev. Barry

    Not worth discussing

    1. Rev Mark D's Avatar Rev Mark D

      Okay Barry, In that case that's a good thing you brought it up.

  1. Rev. MichaelRS's Avatar Rev. MichaelRS

    Well based on the quotations in the article and so forth, we're talking about the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    So considering how much and well a large number people follow God's life guidance and Commandments now, I doubt giving them more time during the week to do so would be helpful.

    My opinion is that God doesn't really give a poop about anything in that regard EXCEPT remembering and keeping the sabbath. Beyond that that judeo-christian scriptures are mute on the subject

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    We still don’t know if any of the worlds gods exist, so why are we trying to think if it’s okay with a 4 day work week?

    My wife already works a 4 day week, comprising of four 10 hour days. So far, I haven’t heard of a yea, or nay, from any god, so if it’s real I doubt it’s bothered. 🤷🏼


  1. Dorian Wilson's Avatar Dorian Wilson

    I don’t think our Lord intended us to work our lives away making the big guys richer while we still are struggling working 40+ hours a week. It makes man tired, bitter, and hard to find purpose. In my opinion, when the Bible refers to in Exodus 20:9-10 is “labor” doesn’t mean working for the man. It mean working in other aspects in your life by working as a family, putting effort into our true passions or hobbies, or “working” to be better humans. God didn’t intend our lives to revolve 2/3 of the time working for low wages, going without sleep, or stressing about how we are going to get groceries for the week with rising prices but not rising wages.

  1. Ann's Avatar Ann

    And on the seventh day he rested. Hmmm

    1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

      Why a four day work week? Why not one?

    2. Brian R Duggan's Avatar Brian R Duggan

      Well, "he" is a deity, and had a lot of energy devoted to the Big Bang, so maybe one day was good enough for him. Hopefully, "he" would give us some slack and allow us four days with three days off.

      1. Robert Edward Szekely's Avatar Robert Edward Szekely

        Yes, "we" are not "God", in the sense of enormous power. Before labor laws were established and unions were formed, child labor, 80-hour workweeks, sick leave and factories as firetraps were common. We should be evolving as a society. If CEOs are entitled to ungodly rates of compensation in the US that are orders of magnitude higher than eve their middle level managers, plus they get bonuses in the form of "golden parachutes" even when fired or when they drive a company into the ground, the least we can do is show some gratitude to the people who actually accomplish the work that brings revenue into the organization.

    3. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      Clearly the Union got involved at some point. 🤷🏼


  1. Robert Gagnon's Avatar Robert Gagnon

    Just a lazy attitude. The union workers want to work 4 days but get paid for 5 days. That's on top of a substantial hourly increase. It's unreasonable besides unproductive. If you work a ten hour day for four days productivity suffers because anything over eight hours causes weariness and mistakes from over exertion and a loss of concentration. This was all worked out by observation in a working environment decades ago. God has nothing to do with it.

    1. Rev Mark D's Avatar Rev Mark D

      Gagnon: not necessarily. A lot of employers have done that, various formulations. The amount of hours worked as described in the agreement, some are work 4 days but they're 10 or 12-hour days, with the hourly "rate" adjusted accordingly,. Maybe not in this particular case where they want to work 32 hours a week and get paid as if it was 40 hours a week, so you basically have them working 32 hours a week with a higher rate for each of those hours. Just depends on which parts are included in the negotiation and agreement and which parts are not. Commonly done in a lot of industries with a lot of employers. Nurses often work in 12-hour shifts for example.

  1. Cindy L Edgar's Avatar Cindy L Edgar

    Stop using good for everything people I do not see anything wrong with a 4 day week of work thanks for another thing you guys are all praying to Julius Caesar which was the only one God don't believe me look it up it was paganism before any of this came about even before Christianity which paganism believes in many gods and others and give thanks to them everyday

  1. Brian R Duggan's Avatar Brian R Duggan

    LOL, great question! I guess if it is the Judeo-Christian god who created slave owning and serfdom, neoliberalism, class struggles, union suffrage, seven deadly sins, and the golden rule, "he" may support it in a passive aggressive anthropomorphic way (see Matthew 6:25-34 forgive me if not a correct bible citation; I am new to bible citing). :)

    1. Robert Edward Szekely's Avatar Robert Edward Szekely

      BTW, some form of the "Golden Rule" has existed in all civilizations and cultures. Adonai and Christ didn't "invent" it.

  1. Theresa C. Marquess's Avatar Theresa C. Marquess

    Throughout my entire working life, I worked a 5-6 day week. God worked a six-day week, why would He expect anything different from us? It's my belief that we have to do what is right for each one of us.

    1. Robert Edward Szekely's Avatar Robert Edward Szekely

      Yes, but God only worked a single week in His existence creating the Universe. He didn't have to repeat it over and over again.

      1. Theresa C. Marquess's Avatar Theresa C. Marquess

        Ah, but look at all that he accomplished...he gave us so many of beautiful animals, flowers, trees, minerals, and the air that we breathe, that it lasts eons. He gave us life that exists on our planet. He provided everything that we need to grow food, build and create. Look around. Now it is time for us to do our part with the wonderful gift that he gave to us in our universe.

        Work is not a bad thing. It can be very satisfying and rewarding if you choose the right career for yourself. I never minded working 5-6 days a week and volunteering wherever and whenever it was possible. My life was fulfilling and it still is.

  1. Nicholas J Page's Avatar Nicholas J Page

    Funny how God worked 6 days a week and on the 7th he created The Sabbath.This is lame excuse especially WFH.As long as you have the necessary rest what difference does it make .

    1. Robert Edward Szekely's Avatar Robert Edward Szekely

      With today's current work pace, I would argue that "one day" does not constitute "sufficient rest", especially considering how technology causes work to bleed more and more into our personal lives. How often do people get texts, emails and calls from their bosses when they're officially "off" work? Or have work projects that spill into their "personal" time?

  1. James Riggle-Johnson's Avatar James Riggle-Johnson

    I don't think he cares.

  1. CB Cuff's Avatar CB Cuff

    My Old Age pension is already too small. And, and, how would capitalists sleep at night?

  1. Catherine's Avatar Catherine

    Does anywhere in the KJV bible define the length of a work day? Do other religious doctrines specify the length of a work day? I'm not aware of any. If there were, how would what was done centuries ago accommodate current needs?

    I think 6-hour work days 4 days a week is a generous offer to those who profit from our labor. That might allow us to do more for ourselves and be less dependent on proprietary resources.

    Many years ago, someone from another country told me his company chose the United States to be its primary workforce because after comparing with other suitable prospects, "Americans are the most willing to relinquish time spent with family, recreation, and self-improvement, for money.

    We reap what we sow, or allow to be sowed?

    Having lived on a farm, I would not be opposed to a 7-day work week. Nature takes no time off. We were told we could take a day off when chickens stop laying eggs daily. When cows don't need milking daily. When animals don't need feeding daily. When we don't need to eat daily. And so forth.

    However, most chores were done in short time. Maintenance of a family sized garden was determined by the seasons. Planting and harvesting for income was the bulk of work; also seasonal. None of that was unbearable and there was plenty of time for family, self-improvement, and recreation.

    With the exception of sometimes being busy sun-up-to-sundown for days or a week-ish, most of our time was our own. I read more, usually 2-3 books weekly. I was more connected with nature and life in general then, than after entering the workforce web of lies and deceit for profit I never benefited from as much as those I worked for.

    My experience with 4-day work weeks is that was a vast improvement over 5-day work weeks. Nonetheless, I think arguing for a 4-day 40-hour work week is settling for less than each individual deserves.

    I think those who profit most from our labor are better served by a generous pay cut.

    I think substantially shorter work days and work weeks would resolve unemployment concerns immediately.

    I think enslaving ourselves for people who don't give us a second thought - excepting profit margins - is a waste of our lives and mostly unappreciated by all involved. Because enslaving ourselves tends to make us unappreciative of ourselves. Less confident. How many of us learn to value our self and others, or our place in the world around us when we are not working for ourselves self-sufficiently, or working toward that eventual achievement?

    I've worked 70+ hours a week at minimum wage. That's a wicked trap to be caught in. As is unabated consumerism.

    If each of us put forth more effort toward gaining the most results and best outcome using the least effort, everyone would have more opportunity to be their best self. That is recognizing full potential; not being lazy. Being less reliant on those who profit most from our efforts while offering next-to-nothing in return, and reducing that heap of stress that bleeds into all aspects of living.

    I think life is generally about adapting and thriving amidst change. That is how we grow. Surviving challenges strengthens. I think choosing better challenges helps us become better humans for the effort.

    Isn't enlightened self-interest vital to survival?

    Yes, I dream ^ . ^

  1. John W's Avatar John W

    I don't see a conflict between the two having worked jobs where I was required to work 12 hours a day 7 days a week and others where I was on duty 24 hours followed by 24 hours off for a 3 month period or on duty for 16 hours a day for 10 days followed by 2 days off. My last job was a salaried position that expected us to put in about 50 hours a week with the last 10 being "voluntary time". So I actually favor the 4 day 32 hour work week for companies. The 7 day narrative in the Bible is symbolic as we cannot a supreme beings concept of time where a single day may be eons of our time if one looks at the geological record of the earth.

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    Well, he advocated slavery so I’m sure he was happy for slaves to work a 7 day week, but as for their Masters, they possibly hardly worked at all.

    I wonder which side of the party political spectrum he favours? Would he support the left leaning woke, that don’t like working at all, many wanting everything for free, or does he want us to work with the sweat of our brow? If he does, don’t tell those that love looting for a living 4 days a week, or even less. 🤭


    1. Dorian Wilson's Avatar Dorian Wilson

      It represents us working our lives away to make the big guys pockets deeper. We literally work our lives away making others rich while we still struggle no matter how hard or much we work. Our wages DO NOT match the true sacrifice we make. I have faith still that the Lord didn’t intend this for us. All the selfishness, ugly, hate, no common decency/courtesy. People are destroying their own communities, and hurting their neighbors. It is overwhelming the hold evil has in this world.However, we are only humans and we have free will. I try to keep my faith things will turn around in society.

    2. Rev. Rory's Avatar Rev. Rory

      What does "woke" mean? Other than a talking point for people that become millionaires by saying the word over and over on TV and podcasts, seriously, what is "woke"? Don't anti-woke people ask for donations?

  1. Minister Raymond Butterworth's Avatar Minister Raymond Butterworth

    If you want to work 32 hours, cool, get paid for 32. What kind of minds come up with this stuff...and then want a ridiculous raise of 36%. Those on the picket lines are getting 500$ a week strike pay so there in no rush to reach resolution. And everyone gets mad when companies take their jobs to Mexico or somewhere. If i had a company i would move it to Mexico rather than have to deal the sense of entitlement that is so prevalent in this country today. It is my contention that this is laziness and greed. Those who are in leadership of the unions seem to be using their power just because they have it. I think they ask for something they knew they wouldn't get so they could be a part of the biggest strike in history. Had their ask been reasonable i believe they could have reached an agreement without having a strike.

    There's my 2 cents worth.

  1. Pastor Wm. Dawson's Avatar Pastor Wm. Dawson

    Well, it would be nice to see if anyone can actually read and understand the word of God. Everyone is worried about how many days to work instead of concentrating on the actual wording of God. The sabbath day was written for the Hebrew people not the gentiles. This day of Sabbath is under the law, and we do not live under the law. Even if you wanted to try and live that way you can't it is impossible for you and I to live like that. You were not even allowed to cook on that day, let alone anything else. If you did you were put to death. So, if you want to work 4 days 2 days or 6 days it don't matter it all depends on how hungry or how lazy you are. And just because you have an extra day off doesn't mean you will do any more for GOD, quit trying to fool yourself and lying to everyone around you. Learn to read properly, not everything in the bible is for you. The scripture is in 3 basic parts, The Law, Grace, and The Law. Genesis to Acts 9 is the law, from Acts 9 to Philemon is Grace, from Hebrews to the end of Revelation is the Law. Good luck with your education.

  1. Nelson Bank's Avatar Nelson Bank

    We only need one day of rest, unless we have a really abusive boss. If we're working just for the money, we have an obligation to confront assignments of too much work. Yes, everything's a sacrifice for the long run, ours and others'. I'm retired. I keep the Sabbath by not working. It's my day off. For six days I do things that would be considered work - reading computer coding, which I might need if I can get online to volunteer teach; the Bible(s) so I can lead the Way if someone asks; a huge book of short stories, which I hope will show me how a short story is put together, so I can write a story guiding the reader to Love and Friendship (or to Jesus' teachings, the way I understand them); and other readings. They are hard to read, as in work, but not so hard as to make me hate doing the reading. I schedule my 6 days around readings, 8 to 5. On Saturday I don't read . . I try to have fun and do fun things. I think that 7th day is God's way of telling us to get a little tired during our workweek, and relax for a day. If you're working too hard, the 7th day will not be enough. The solution: Don't work that hard, be considerate to your body.

  1. Rev. Rory's Avatar Rev. Rory

    What would God say about a four day work week? He wouldn't say anything. Humans are so caught up in questions like this. Nobody can answer such a question. Holy books written thousands of years ago did not anticipate modern capitalism. If you want to work every moment of your life, do so. If you find there is more to your time on earth than work-for-pay, if you can, do something about it. I judge nobody on this issue.

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