Labor Day is one of the oldest Federal holidays, created in 1894 under President Grover Cleveland. The Industrial Revolution had brought grueling, long days (12 hours) to workers and many worked 7 days a week. Even children went to hot, dangerous mills to work. Attempts to organize workers to gain better wages and working conditions were often met with violence and sometimes death. A day to celebrate workers was born. Labor Day has become the unofficial end of Summer for us.
Here’s an idea you may find jarring, if not radical.
Your work matters to God!
Whether you are a laborer, a teacher, a homemaker, or a pastor – God takes an interest in your life’s work. “Ah, Jerry, I work to pay the bills. That’s it.” Yes, it is true that work is complicated by sin, greed, and injustice. Genesis tells us that our efforts will never produce all the results we desire. The gardens we plant will develop weeds. The strategies we so carefully construct will be frustrated by unforeseen problems. Our boss will not always reward our effort. Others may claim the credit for the good we do. We might even have to work for lazy supervisors who make us to what they should be doing. But, still we work, not just to produce an income but, as the Word says, to please God!
Christian, always keep this in mind- God knows, He sees, and His rewards and commendations are perfectly just. If we have been diligent, we can anticipate standing before our Lord and hearing this: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” (Matthew 25:20-21, NIV) And, that is not just about ‘church’ work.
If you often think like this – I hate my boss and just want to retire – I pray two things for you: An understanding of your labor that allows you to find joy in the effort and a change in your boss! (Smile on that one) Here is the truth. A person known to be a disciple of Christ who goes to work and fulfills her responsibilities well is a credit to the Kingdom! Other than outright hypocrisy, nothing else brings more disgrace on the Name of Christ than those who fail to do their work with excellence and diligence.
In the Bible we are taught the value of working well. Though originally addressed to the slaves that had come to Christ and become part of the Church, the words still apply. Thankfully, slavery is gone in most place. The principle shows us how to work. “Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.” (Ephesians 6:7-8, NLT) Another passage repeats and emphasizes the same point: “Don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.” (Colossians 3:22-25, The Message)
Struggling to work with excellence? Finding it difficult to perform at a consistently high level? Let me recommend a book that’s been around a while. It’s not a “Christian” title, but the principles in it are rooted in spiritual truth. Stephen Covey wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. It is wisdom that will change your life if you take it to heart. The Christian who weds this wisdom with the powerful encouragement of the Holy Spirit becomes a force for good. Really!
Take a second look at your work. Commit what you do and how you do it to Christ Jesus, prayerfully bringing Him to work with you. Ask Him to help your life in the workplace to honor Him and side effect will be greater joy for you. I know it! I hope you enjoy Labor Day today.
Father, the world in which we live frustrates us.
There is such an emphasis on leisure and pleasure,
There are so many unfair and unjust situations
That we are sometimes tempted to join with the
Complainers, slackers, and minimalists at work.
Help us to see that our work matters to You.
Teach to work at what we do wholeheartedly, and
Prosper the work of our hands.
We pray in Jesus’ Name.