“When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you”
The official U.S. Department of Labor website states that Labor Day “constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” That’s not too far off from the Christian view of work in the world. Well, sort of. At least it’s closer to God’s perspective than how most Americans define the day.
Labor Day is rarely celebrated for the reasons stated by the Department of Labor. We claim Labor Day as our unofficial last day of summer. It’s the last day of freedom and leisure before we go back to school and the rigors of our jobs kick in, now that summer vacations and vocational laxity are in the rear view mirror. A modern American perspective on work is that it’s something which makes us miserable, as we grudgingly endure it until such time as we hit the lottery, receive a generous inheritance or retire. We live for leisure and work for the weekend.
That is an upside down view of work in God’s economy. As Martin Luther points out, “Your work is a very sacred matter. God delights in it, and through it He wants to bestow His blessing on you. This praise of work should be inscribed on all tools, on the forehead and the face that sweat from toiling.” A Christian view of work recognizes God, not the labor force, as the source of the contributions that strengthen, prosper and provide for the well-being of our nation. “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth (Deut. 8:17-18a). God provides for you, me and our nation through our labors. God intends for us to work and to delight in it.
As Christians, our work is not a secular duty, but a sacred calling or offering. The Apostle Paul reminds us, in Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Do you think of everything you do as a form of serving Christ? That includes your homework, mowing the lawn, washing the dishes, changing diapers, driving a school bus, working at the checkout line, serving as a state representative, painting homes, writing code, teaching, providing medical care, cutting hair, managing a business, balancing the books, priming the assembly line, wielding a chainsaw, answering the phone or an email, installing HVAC systems, designing bridges, painting and even pastoring (insert your daily work here if I missed it!).
Brothers and sisters, let’s consider what our daily work truly is and go back to it with happy and grateful hearts, doing it all as unto the Lord. Don’t you think, just maybe, your neighbors will notice and ask you “to give the reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15) How could that not glorify Christ more?