Labor Day, Not Just a Day Off?
This weekend we celebrate Labor Day as a nation, and while many of us believe it just to be a day off from work, it was actually created to be a celebration of the accomplishments, innovations, and societal impact that our work has had in the past year. Labor Day, “constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”[i]
So instead of just being a day off, what could it be for us? If you know God, then Labor Day isn’t just a day off, but rather a day to celebrate many things.
Celebrate You Were Created to Work
First, we celebrate that we were created to work. That’s right work itself is not an effect of the Fall. Humanity was given the gift of making something of the world God created, at the beginning. In fact, God gave the command to cultivate the garden to Adam and Eve before they turned towards temptation.
Think about this a minute. Is your work a drag? Do you work so you can play later? Is work a means to an end for you? If so, let this truth sink in. You were actually created to work and take the elements of creation and make something different from them.
You may be making relationships with customers, making a physical product like a meal, a book, or a piece of technology. You may also be making life easier for someone else by delivering a package on time, being a kind worker, or through the innovative products or processes you create. Or maybe you’re making challenges for young minds, making a physical space that someone else will occupy, or making relationships smoother through risk and conflict management.
For this season, the work you’ve been given whether paid or unpaid, is a way of living out how you were created. It’s a gift to be offered back to God, for the common good of the neighborhood (global or local) you work in. And whatever you are making, it’s worth celebrating this Labor Day.
Celebrate the Impact of Work
Second, we celebrate other’s work and their impact on our lives. I’m not a garbage collector by trade, but I am certainly thankful for mine! Like clockwork on Monday mornings, my garbage collector picks up the stench and smell of a week’s worth of refuse and takes it to a place where it’s sorted, and items are reused and recycled.
When we lived in Washington, our trash woman hopped off her truck and introduced herself to us and gave my kids lollipops. She was not expected to do this of course, but the service she provided and the way in which she went about her work was not lost on me.
I’m also not a chiropractor, but when my back seized up the first time a few years ago, I was so thankful that there was a person who had studied the body and the spine and knew how to manipulate it so that I could walk again.
You see, the work of others impacts us most moments of our days. Without people being diligent at their work, our lives wouldn’t be the same. In fact, God uses each of our work for the bigger picture of building his Kingdom. As our gifts are used to build the body of Christ, our gifts are also utilized to keep our little corner of the world spinning.
Whether it’s the high school student delivering pizza or working the check stand at Target, or the customer service agent on the phone call you make, everyone’s work matters to God, and so it needs to matter to us as well. Work given by God and work done well- no matter what kind of work it is- is worthy of celebration!
Celebrate God Working Through Your Work
Third, we celebrate God’s work in the world through our working lives. You weren’t gifted by God in your work because you’re especially talented or hard working, though those things may have an impact on your work. The ways in which you work is sheer gift from God. The mind you’ve been blessed with, the education you may have, the connections you’ve made through your work, these are ALL gifts from God; signs of love to you from the Creator of Work.
So it’s in and through these skills and abilities that God works. Do you know that as you work, God is working through you to bring about his purposes in the world? What you do, write, say, and make through your work can be something God takes to make an impact on what’s happening in the world. These are not just mere words! When our work is offered to God, he can exponentially expand the impact of our work in the world for the Kingdom. Now that is something to be celebrated, indeed!
Celebrate That Work Will Continue
Fourth, we celebrate that we will continue to work (but just without all the effects of the Fall) into the New Creation! Work has its toil, its drudgery, its heartbreaks and frustrations. None of us are exempt from these in our work. But, scripture promises us that we will continue to take the best of our work, and the most enjoyable parts of our work, and will work in those ways into eternity. God gives gifts to people to make something of the world and will continue to use those skills to make an impact on the heavenly city!
This is mind-blowing! Since we were created to work (prior to the Fall), then the things that light up our passions, skills, and abilities will also be used into the New Creation when Christ returns. For many, this is a relief.
The artist who loves to create will keep creating. The teacher who loves to impart knowledge will continue to share knowledge in some way. The skilled laborer who loves to build will not be without things to create with their hands. Celebrating the work that will continue into eternity can be a part of our Labor Day celebration as well!
So, as you gather with friends or family this Labor Day remember that there’s many reasons to celebrate, and not just because it’s a day off. Take some time to thank God for the work you have, think through the ways you’re seeing God at work, and ponder what might change in your work as a result of knowing you’ll work into eternity (in all the best ways!)
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