Today we celebrate Labor Day. This federal holiday is more than a Monday off. It honors and recognizes the works and contributions of laborers to the development and achievement of our nation. The work, each of us does, matters.
This year we have been introduced to a term: “essential worker.” An essential worker is somebody who holds a specialized knowledge and whose service is essential for the successful operation of a business enterprise and society as a whole. I am thankful for the countless individuals who worked through the pandemic in service to our nation (i.e., doctors, nurses, first responders, garbage collectors, and grocers). However, I must admit that I believe all workers are essential. The Babylon Bee posted a meme of a man slumped over a table starring into nothingness with these words under the pic: “Man Glad To Know Job That Fed His Family, Paid His Rent Is ‘Non-Essential.'” No job is non-essential. What you do matters. It matters to you, your family, society, and God.
The Bible, God’s Word, has much to say about work. For instance, it speaks to our attitude toward work. We read in Colossians 3:23-25: “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.” This is the Christian work ethic. We are called to put forth our best efforts to work from our heart and soul at whatever we do. We are accountable to God as we administrate the gifts He has given us. Our work flows from our thankfulness to Him. God provides us with the ability to work, and we do so with gratitude.
Some see work as a dirty word, but it was instituted with creation before the Fall (see: Genesis 2:15). It became difficult after the Fall (See: Genesis 3:17-19). However, work is part of the “excellent” piece of all God created (see: Genesis 1:31). Simply put, work is of God and good. Obviously, this does not mean we ought to allow ourselves to be taken advantage of in our work or work in unhealthy environments, but that work in a healthy environment is good and God’s will for us.
Among the many words regarding work found in Scripture, we discover: “Hard work always pays off; mere talk puts no bread on the table” (Proverbs 14:23). We also read: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). The Bible encourages a strong work ethic. One way God provides for us is through our work.
It is important to note that nowhere in Scripture is workaholism championed. We work to honor God, provide, and use what is supplied to be generous to others. As much as the Bible speaks of work is also numerously addresses rest. God did not just institute work at the beginning of creation. He also established the Sabbath. He did the work of creation for six days, then ceased. God did not need to rest. He is omnipotent, meaning He is all-powerful. God’s ceasing was to set an example for us. We humans need to rest. Working, God’s way is good. So too is rest when we do it God’s way. We are even commanded to practice a Sabbath rest in the Ten Commandments (see: Exodus 20:9-10). When we put our best into our work, we ought to rest and not feel guilty. After all, God commands it. God’s call to rest is a gift to all who choose to receive it.
Followers of Christ are to work hard for the Lord’s glory. We also are to rest well in Him and from our work. I have heard it said: “Work hard, play hard, and rest well.” On this Labor Day, let me thank you for your essential work. I hope you can truly rest from your work and in the Lord. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!