Christians have a reason to celebrate Labor Day that goes beyond having a three-day weekend. (Although that ain’t bad!) The Bible honors the fundamental dignity of workers, for we worship a God who labored in creating the world – and created human beings in his image to be workers.
When God made Adam and Eve, he gave them work to do: cultivating, caring for and subduing the earth. Christians therefore see work as a high calling – a calling to be co-laborers with God in protecting and developing the rich potential of his creation.
Maids as well as ministers
Martin Luther preached that all work should be done to the glory of God. Whether ministering the Gospel or scrubbing floors, any honest, ethical work is pleasing to the Lord. Out of this conviction grew the Protestant work ethic.
The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays – not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.
John Wesley preached the Gospel throughout England. He came not to the upper classes, but to the laboring classes – to men whose faces were black with coal dust, women whose dresses were patched and faded. Wesley preached to them, and, in the process, he pricked the conscience of the whole nation.
Two of Wesley’s disciples, William Wilberforce and Lord Shaftesbury, were inspired to work for legislation that would clean up abuses in the workplace. At their urging, the British parliament passed child-labor laws, safety laws, and minimum-wage laws. Christians in America followed suit, serving at the vanguard of the efforts to reform child labor laws and other work-related reforms.
If you think work is bad …
Our culture has a view of work largely shaped by the ancient Greeks: We work out of necessity. But the Bible teaches we are made in the image of God, our working God, and as such, work is good. (Don’t think so? Ask the man or woman who’s lost his or her job.) We are made to work: to create, to shape, to bring order out of disorder.
The Bible extols the goodness of work. The words “work” and “labor” appear in various forms 670 times. If you have a job, you know how fortunate you are. If you don’t, you know how important it is to have one. Don’t give up looking: if you have a pulse, you have a purpose, and God, our working God, has a job for you somewhere.
This Labor Day, let’s remember that all legitimate work – work that is legal, ethical and moral – derives its true dignity as a reflection of the Creator. Whatever we do, in word or deed, we do it all to the glory of God.
Enjoy your Labor Day!
*I’m indebted to BreakPoint Ministries and byFaith online for some of this content.