Labor Day sounds more like a day of work than a day of leisure, doesn’t it? We often have an attitude that work is hard and to be avoided, but it is important to remember that God expects us to work. Work was not created as a result of sin. In Genesis 2:15 we learn “The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the Garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.” The very first thing the Lord did with Adam was to put him to work in the sinless environment of the Garden of Eden!
After the fall of Adam and Eve, work became more difficult as we hear in Genesis 3: 17-19, “To the man he said: Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, cursed is the ground because of you! In toil, you shall eat its yield all the days of your life. Thorns and thistles it shall bear for you, and you shall eat the grass of the field. By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread, until you return to the ground, from which you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” So although work has always been part of God’s plan for us, the original sin in the Garden of Eden made work more difficult.
Work is one of those things that the Lord uses to help develop our character. Businesses and jobs are not just designed to earn money…they are also intended to produce godly character in the life of the worker.
According to the Bible, there is equal dignity in all types of honest work. Scripture doesn’t elevate one professional above another: David was a shepherd and a king; Lydia was a retailer who sold purple fabric; Daniel was a government worker; Mary was a homemaker; Paul was a tent maker; Matthew was a tax collector; Peter was a fisherman; Jesus was a carpenter. Almost all of the godly people in the Bible had secular jobs.
God has given each of us unique skills, talents and interests. No one person is better than another. We each have different skills and abilities and it takes everyone to make a business operate—from the CEO to the janitor. How many times have you passed the person sweeping the floor, or the person cleaning the bathroom and ignored them? Yet they are proving a valuable service that is a necessary part of running a business.
Many people today feel that having a secular job prevents them from serving Christ in a significant way. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your job is your place of ministry. You are in a position to reach out to your co-workers and share your faith with them, even if you never speak a word. By not gossiping, by working hard, by being honest, by doing a good job, by greeting the janitor with a smile you are witnessing to an authentic Christian ideal.
So often people leave God out of their work. They believe that they alone are responsible for their abilities and successes. This can be a great cause of stress and frustration if people don’t understand that ultimately they work for God. No matter where you are or what kind of work you do, you work for Christ himself! Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance; be slaves of the Lord Christ.” If you could see Christ in your boss, would you work any differently? As you go to work each day, remind yourself …”For whom do I work?”
If you are working for Christ, laziness must be avoided. “Those slack in their work are kin to the destroyer.” (Proverbs 18:9). No one should ever see you working at such a level that they will equate laziness with God. Nothing less than hard work and the pursuit of doing the job to the best of your ability will please God. He expects us to pursue our responsibilities with diligence and integrity.
On the flip side, hard work must be balanced by the other priorities in life. If your work life demands so much of your time and energy that you neglect your relationship with Christ or your family, then you are working too much. If that is happening, you need to stop and consider the reason. Is your job too demanding, or do you need to adjust your work habits? It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that staying at work late means you are more valuable than the person who leaves at a reasonable hour, but that is not necessarily true.
Exodus 34:21 says, “Six days you may labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the seasons of plowing and harvesting you must rest.” This might be even more important today than it was when Exodus was written. In today’s fast-paced environment, we need time each week to rest, to pray and to spend with our loved ones.
When you think about it, the rest can really become an issue of faith. Can God make our six days of work more productive than working seven? Absolutely!! Then have faith, believe in God’s power and take the seventh day to rest and spend time with your loved ones!
And even though it is called “Labor” Day, take the
time to enjoy the holiday.