“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-23 (NIV)
In 1894 the U.S. Congress established our annual Labor Day holiday, setting aside the first Monday in September to honor the social and economic achievements of American workers, especially the contributions they have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
The Bible has a lot to say about work.
In the Garden of Eden, our first parents were given the task of tending to the garden. God knew that people need to feel useful and productive. Work should bring satisfaction, a feeling of accomplishment and value. In Exodus, God used skilled workers to build His tabernacle and all its furnishings. What a worthy project!
Unfortunately, because of our disobedience, even work is not what God originally intended.
Our labor provides for our needs, but too many people are free-loaders. The Book of Proverbs says much about diligence and laziness, and the consequences of each. The Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:10 states, “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”” In the Colossians quote above, Paul tells us the proper attitude: to do our work whole-heartedly as unto the Lord.
The Labor Movement started in response to the opposite problem: the abuse of workers. The Bible says a lot about that, too. Here is a sampling:
Deuteronomy 24:14 “Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns.”
Matthew 10:10 “. . . the worker is worth his keep.”
1 Tim 5:18 “For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.””
A major complaint God had against the rulers and leaders in the Old Testament was their abuse of the people. In Jeremiah 22:13, the prophet wrote: “Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice, making his own people work for nothing, not paying them for their labor.“
In the New Testament, James the brother of Jesus warned the wealthy who abused their privileged position:
“Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.”
Instead, they should take care of their workers and treat them fairly, pay reasonable wages and provide safe working conditions. See Ephesians 6.
So whether you are a white-collar or blue-collar worker, employer, supervisor, entrepreneur, government leader, or something else, celebrate Labor Day this year by recognizing that our ultimate Boss is God and we should do all things for His glory.