Labor Day

In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty (Proverbs 14:23)

Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it (Genesis 2:15)

On June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed legislation that pronounced the first Monday of September as a national holiday known as Labor Day. By the time Congress sent that legislation to the President, there were 23 states that had already recognized that day as an official holiday. There is debate about who should receive credit for the idea of an official holiday, but most recognize that the first Labor Day was held on September 5, 1882 in New York City. 

The U. S. Department of Labor website informs us that “The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday—a street parade to exhibit to the public ‘the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations’ of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families.” However, most people have to confess that very few people treat the day as a holiday that celebrates the accomplishments of organized labor and the working man. The average person treats Labor Day simply as a vacation day that marks the end of summer.

I find that somewhat ironic. A day set apart to honor work is viewed merely as an escape from work! Such ironies should not, however, surprise us. When work is cut off from a God-centered view of the world, it becomes regarded as a necessary evil rather than an act of obedience and worship. God created mankind to work. Granted, sin has caused work to be filled with problems, but work is still a means by which we serve the Lord Christ (Col. 3:24). Without an eternal, biblically informed perspective of work, it is reduced to a practical necessity—something that must be done in order to have the resources to do everything (or anything) else. We work only so that we can do something other than work!

For those who know the Lord and see life from His perspective, it is impossible to write off a large portion of your life (work) as a necessary evil. God wants your life to reflect His glory all the time, not just when you are off the job. The mindset of our day that hates work and lives for recreation is a subtle, yet sinister, form of worldliness. God’s children cannot let the world squeeze us into its mold!

Please don’t get me wrong—I am planning to enjoy the “day off” today! I also plan to enjoy the “day on” that follows Monday. Since I know that God has created work and that I am doing the work God wants me to do, I don’t have to limit my joy to “days off.” My (and your) work must always maintain its Godward focus. The crowning achievement of our work is not accumulation and recreation. The crowning achievement of a believer’s work is the glory given to God and the reward received from God. Enjoy Monday and the rest of the week!

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