Each year on the first Monday of September, the United States observes Labor Day. On June 28th, 1894, President Grover Cleveland declared Labor Day a federal holiday, though it had been celebrated in several states for years prior. Our nation sets this day aside to recognize the hard work Americans perform throughout the year. Labor Day is often a time that is spent with friends and loved ones during a day off from work. But for Christians, Labor Day is also a time to reflect on God’s mandates of work and rest.
Work is a Gift from God
Our work is a good gift given to us by God that allows us to take part in His purposes on earth. Before the first man and woman disobeyed God and fell into sin, they were given a job to do—tending to the garden. However, after the curse, work became toil and burden. Whatever it is that we do for work, no matter how much we enjoy our jobs, we are sure to find ourselves tired and burnt out sometimes.
But God has given us a grace for our fatigue. On the seventh day of creation, God established the Sabbath for us—a day to take for rest. While that time of renewal, remembrance, and rest is now ultimately found in Jesus and not limited to a particular day, we should still be finding time in our busy schedules to step away from our work.
Labor Day is an Invitation
For Christians, Labor Day is an invitation to step back and ponder the role that work has in our spiritual lives. Even if we have to work on Labor Day, we have the opportunity to evaluate our heart’s posture toward work. Have we made our work an idol in our lives, striving ceaselessly to achieve a measure of success? Do we trust our work to provide for us more than we trust the One who provides all things?
Is our heart toward work one of resentment and apathy? Do we see our work solely as something that restricts our time and freedom? Do we do only enough to get by, never making an effort to do more than is necessary?
These questions bid us to consider our example, Jesus. Labor Day for the believer is an opportunity to remember Christ, whose work brings us into God’s eternal rest.
Our work is worship as we seek to do all things for God’s glory. When we put work in its rightful place and see it as a gift and a means to provide for ourselves and our families, we are compelled to praise God for the grace He has given us in work.
Our rest is worship as we look to Christ who has done everything necessary for our salvation. We cease from our striving and know that He is God. On the cross, Jesus cried out “It is finished” (John 19:30), and He rests now at the right hand of God.
Encouragement for Labor Day
As you spend time with family, friends, or co-workers this Labor Day, praise God for your work. Whether you work from home or in an office, whether your work is primarily parenting or if you are high in the chain of command at a corporation, all work belongs to the Lord and is done as an act of worship to Him.
Take time this Labor Day to pray for those you come into contact with each day. The barista at your local coffee shop; the cashier at your favorite boutique; the teller at the bank. Pray that they would find joy in their work and rest in Jesus. Pray these things for yourself as well as you consider the rhythms of work and rest in your own life.
Additional resources on work and rest: