Truck drivers, nurses, flight attendants, mechanics, and factory workers are not often recognized. We focus on the leaders and visionaries of a company and neglect the employees who tirelessly work in cubicles and warehouses. Today, we celebrate those laborers who are often forgotten. Rather than honor a famous person or event, Labor Day is an American holiday to celebrate the value of the worker.
For some, work is a passion. It is how you define yourself and where you pour out your heart and energy. For others, work is a necessary evil. Your career provides for you and your family. You work for the weekend.
Rather than idolizing work or despising labor, Jesus joyfully toiled for the good of others and the glory of God. Every day of His life, He fought temptation and fully obeyed God’s commands. He served family, friends, and strangers, even willingly taking a servant's duty as He washed His disciples’ feet (John 13:3–5). Jesus did not work to be famous or wealthy, often commanding those He healed to remain silent about His work. His labor was for a greater purpose—to glorify God through redeeming the world.
Jesus’s greatest act occurred through His death. Out of love, He sacrificed Himself on the cross to free all who believe from sin and death. Because of this great work, Jesus could boldly proclaim to God the Father, “I have glorified you on the earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” (John 17:4). All of Jesus’s labor glorified God because it was done in obedience to His will.
Because of His work on the cross, we are all offered freedom from sin. Paul explains this in Ephesians 2:8–9, which says, “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast.” Jesus accomplished the work to earn our salvation so that we do not have to. Rather than labor to gain salvation, we are offered it freely as a gift from God.
But we are given the gift of salvation for a purpose. Paul continues in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.” Just as Jesus worked to advance the kingdom of God, He invites us to work alongside Him. Followers of Jesus can work like Jesus as we sacrificially serve others out of love.
Work is often depleting, especially when we are working out of our strength. Sometimes we feel as if our labor is worthless. But God promises that He knows and values when we work for His glory. The author of Hebrews explains this well when he writes, “For God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you demonstrated for his name by serving the saints—and by continuing to serve them” (Hebrews 6:10). When our work comes out of our love for God, it may be unseen by others, but it is always noticed and noted by God.
On Labor Day, let us celebrate the worker but also, let us celebrate the finished work of Jesus that offers those with faith freedom from sin and death. As we look forward to our future labor, let us tirelessly work not for our own kingdoms but to build up the kingdom of God in our churches and around the world.
Faith Questions- Purpose Booklet
“History of Labor Day.” U.S. Department of Labor. https://www.dol.gov/general/laborday/history