“Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”
How do you define Labor Day? For many, it marks the official end of summer. Most children are back in school, each day show signs of getting shorter with earlier sunsets, and depending on your location, there might be cooler temperature in the air. Yes, summer months are finally coming to a close and football fans are excited to cheer on their favorite team as the fall sports season begins. 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 forms a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. So, Labor Day is a holiday about work and recognition for the hard work people have put forth to strengthen our economy and our country as a whole. As men who want to be an example we need to remember some things about our work. The Bible says, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24 KJV Also we must Be grateful. It says it here in the Bible, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” 1 Timothy 5:8 KJV Most of all we need to remember that God values us not for what we do or how much we earn but for who we are… His beloved children redeemed through the sacrifice of his son Jesus. We should be dedicating ourselves to the Lord through our work. He is our real boss. So work hard as unto the Lord and know that his approval will guarantee success. We should also remember that it is by His labor on the cross that His rest is possible. So, the honor all goes to Him.
What Does The Bible say About Labor:
“And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-11 KJV I think Labor Day is a strange holiday. While we call it “Labor Day,” we try to do as little labor as possible and most working people have the day off. It’s a bad weekend for the Church…because everyone wants to do other things this weekend. Labor Day is different things to different people. To the factory or office worker, it may be a day off. But, for policemen, nurses and doctors, it’s just another work day. To farmers, it’s just another day to feed the livestock… and work in the field. Our passages today in 1 and 2 Thessalonians…encourage us to work rather than sit around on welfare. Many people think work is an undesirable thing…and they do as little as possible for the greatest return. This leads to the idea of someone else doing the work for you – an employee. In America, “labor” and “management” are adversaries. Labor wants the most money for the least work. Management wants the most work for the least money. The American way is based on this adversarial relationship. Our American work system is not necessarily Christian. The Bible says, “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.” Ephesians 6:5-9 KJV This passage is about masters and slaves. However, it can easily be applied to management and employees. God cares about how we conduct business! He cares about how we treat others. We will all face judgment, both management and employees. The Christian cannot separate his business and his spiritual life. He has no right to “out-heathen” the heathen. The Christian does not live for self alone. The Bible says, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;” Romans 12:10 KJV An employee should be paid what he deserves. The Bible says, “ At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee. Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.” Deuteronomy 24:15, Leviticus 19:13 KJV These Old Testament passages applied to times…when a worker got paid every day.
The Importance of the Sabbath:
The Sabbath is more than a day of physical and mental relaxation. It is even more than the day on which we worship. The Sabbath has a definite redemptive significance—a distinct connection with the everlasting gospel. The New Testament often uses the word rest to describe the good news of salvation realized in the holy history of Jesus Christ. Ever since the Fall, this promised saving rest in Christ has been linked with the Sabbath. That is why the major feast days in the Old Testament were designated as Sabbath days of rest—they pointed ahead to the Messiah and His redemptive activity. The word sabbath means “rest,” and the first we discover about it in the Old Testament is that the Sabbath day belongs to God. He calls it “my holy day” here in the Bible, “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:” Isaiah 59:13 KJV You can also recognize the importance of the Sabbath on Labor Day weekend. It says it here in the Bible, “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.” Genesis 2:2 KJV It talks about how God ended his work and rested on the seventh day. If we want our work to be truly blessed by God, we should rest on the 7th day. Our society today has trained us to believe that working happens from 9 to 5 every day, and then we have the rest of the day off! Labor Day weekend is a great time to remind the people that work happens six days a week and not 40 hours a week, and you should still take time off on Sundays. Labor Day is a great time to discuss the importance of observing the Sabbath in our lives.
Jesus is inviting all of us over for a Labor Day soul food barbecue. The problem is that we take such poor care of our souls that we don’t even hear his invitation. There are hardly any of us here that go more than a day without eating. In fact, most of us eat every few hours. We live in a culture where our bodies are well-fed. In fact, our bodies are often overfed. And yet, in the midst of our culture’s all-you-can-eat buffet for the body, our souls are starving to death. We take great care to feed our temporary bodies, but our souls, which are eternal, are often lucky to get table scraps. How long has it been since you did something to nourish your soul? When was the last time you fasted, depriving your body of food so you could devote your spirit to prayer? When was the last time you read a book that stretched your thinking on some issue of theology? How long has it been since you worshipped God outside of our Church? When was the last time that you sat down as a family to read and discuss the Word of God? In a culture of unbelievable abundance and surplus, our souls are withering away from malnourishment. The problem is that a starving soul is harder to notice than a starving body. When you’re hungry, it’s easy to recognize. You feel it. It’s unmistakable. A hungry soul is less noticeable at first. The effects of a hungry soul are seen, such as, in a life lived with no peace. If all this talk about peace and rest is just ringing hollow with you, it could be because you’ve been starving your soul. The peace and rest Jesus offers is for our souls. It’s a peace that will outlast our lives and will outlast this world. The length of our lives is microscopic in comparison to eternity, and yet our lives in this world often dominate our time, attention, and energy. The Bible reminds us all that, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3 KJV This is a call for us to have an eternal perspective in this temporary world. The challenge is to raise our sights above the physical and focus on the spiritual. If you have made a commitment to Jesus, you’re real life isn’t even here anymore. You’re real life is temporarily hidden with Jesus in heaven. So that is where our sights need to be. It’s a call to constantly guard against allowing ourselves to get bogged down with our temporary problems and struggles here. A time is coming when we will experience our real life in the presence of God. When that time comes, our struggles and hurts and pains will be a distant memory. And when we understand this, it gives us a peace in our lives that really does “transcend human understanding.”
Tomorrow, a lot of us will take a short respite from work or school. I hope you enjoy the day. But much more than that, I hope we’ll all pursue a higher form of Labor Day. I pray that we’ll make every day a Labor Day God’s Way. The rest and peace that Jesus offers us is a life-changing, life-giving experience. He offers us peace to get us through heartaches and struggles. He offers us the peace of knowing that, no matter what hurt we experience, there is a hope that is sure. God is faithful to his promises, and if you have committed your life and your eternity to Jesus Christ, He will take you home to live with him forever. Those who come to God encounter no “Keep Out” signs. Through prayer, God the Father allows us immediate and unlimited access to Him because His Son Jesus Christ has opened the way to all who receive Him. The Bible says, “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” Ephesians 2:18 KJV The parts of our lives that we have tried and failed to repair can be restored by the hand of God. Through faith in Christ, we can be made whole. It says “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” Matthew 11:28, John 6:37.7:37 KJV Once you come to Christ for salvation, you can enjoy unrestricted fellowship. The door is always open.
By: Jeff Ellinger