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Labor Day & Faith

Monday September 2, 2018

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” - Colossians 3:23 (NIV)

Labor Dar The Green Family Foundation

What does Labor day celebrate? Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883. In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a "workingmen's holiday" on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

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. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

Labor Day

The character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone a change in recent years, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem. This change, however, is more a shift in emphasis and medium of expression. Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are given wide coverage in newspapers, radio, and television.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pays tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker. Source

This week we will all have opportunities to work for God. You will go to school or your job and be given work. You will come home afternoon and find work to do. Some of you have work to do at practice for sports or music, and some may even have opportunities to make money. These are all great opportunities to apply what we’ve learned today and do our work for the Lord. Whatever your workweek looks like, start praying now that God will give you a cheerful heart. Ask God to teach you how to work for him - to do your best without complaint, and to go the extra mile. Tell God you want your work to be a thank you for all he has done, and ask God to use you to share his gift with others. Work isn't easy, but it doesn't have to be dreadful. Give your work to God. Work for him, and not just for people. Show God your gratitude, and let your joy be seen your actions.

Labor Day: 8 Biblical Principles of Work

Work: Some people hate to do it. Some love to do it. Some go to great lengths to avoid doing it. Some do it too much. While there are many different attitudes toward work, one thing remains constant: work must be done. Since the Garden of Eden everyone has worked or depended on someone else's work for their survival. Work sets a person's lifestyle—where you live, when you sleep and eat, the time with family, even your dress.

Another constant about work is the fact that God has a clear perspective on it, and we are to align our thoughts with His. As you reflect on your own attitude toward work, consider the following 8 principles that outline God's view of work by James Eckman

1) Work is ordained by God. It was His creative invention from the beginning. The Bible declares that God worked (Genesis 1). By working we resemble God. Like God, you have the ability to work, make plans, implement them, and be creative. Additionally, God gave us the task of ruling over and taking care of His creation (Gen. Genesis 1:28, Genesis 2:15). 

2) Work is for a lifetime. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground (Genesis 3:19). God intends that humans are to work as long as they live. Meaningful activity plays a critical role in being a human being - whether paid or volunteer. The magical age of 65 shouldn't end meaningful, purposeful work.

3) Work is not a punishment.God did not create work as drudgery, but as a gift of fulfillment to life. A human being can do nothing better than...find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without Him, who can eat or find enjoyment (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25)? 

4) Work has three purposes:

to provide money or resources to supply the necessities of life; to provide for a quality of life in the satisfaction of doing a job well; and to serve God. 

5) Work calls for obedience.Even when the boss isn't looking, a good worker is consistent and diligent to the task and loyal to the organization (Colossians 3:22). The real boss is Jesus Christ. See your job as service to Him - not simply your employer. Employers should treat employees with respect and fairness. 

6) Work should be done with excellence. You are to render service, as to the Lord, and not to men (Ephesians 6:6-7); not to be men-pleasers but God-pleasers. God's standard of excellence needs to be the human standard. 

7) Work is honorable. All professions and all kinds of work, assuming they are legal and biblically ethical, are honorable before the Lord. There is no dichotomy between sacred and secular work. All work brings glory to God and fulfillment to you, if it is done to God's glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). 

8) Work provides an opportunity for witness. You manifest a powerful message, both verbal and nonverbal, of a supernatural approach to work. The world today needs this powerful witness to the reality of Christ and the difference that He makes in His followers. (Matthew 5:16)

What does Labor Day mean for Christians?

As much as we value work as a society (and as believers), it’s important to remember that humans have limited capabilities. We cannot work ourselves 24/7 without damaging our relationships and health and hindering our potential for ministry growth. For whatever reason, Americans don’t like taking vacation days. Many think that doing so puts their employment in jeopardy while others just don’t want to pass up the opportunity to get ahead. There is a troubling notion in the workforce that to take time off is to be lazy. From bosses to entry level employees, some businesses give the impression that using vacation time and holidays for personal leisure is equal to saying that your job doesn’t matter to you. This is simply untrue.

Christian Labor Day

On a Christian level, we need to recognize the difference between rest and laziness. The Bible condemns the latter several times in different contexts. Proverbs contains many references to those who are lazy, essentially saying that they will endure tougher times and be slaves in comparison to those who have discipline. In the New Testament we see the leaders of the early church condemning those who wanted to enjoy the fruits of others labor without contributing themselves. 2 Thessalonians 3 shows that there were those who refused to work and it was causing strife in the church. After all, it hurts the community when only some people are willing to work. Anyone who’s ever been in a church where the same handful of people are relied upon for every activity knows that it isn’t a healthy situation.

Rest is 100% healthy, though. It’s the reason we all enjoy getting a full night’s sleep. When we are willing to prioritize rest, we give ourselves the best opportunity to fully invest in the work we are doing. That’s why those of us who get to enjoy a break on Labor Day should take the time to enjoy it. Whether you have special events scheduled with your family or you’re just looking to take it easy, remember that there’s nothing wrong with rest. The creation account even endorses a day of taking it easy and commands it to be a holy day of rest.

On this Labor Day, feel free to not check those emails from work and enjoy the time that you have with your loved ones. To do so is both in the spirit of the holiday and supported by scripture.

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