What Does Labor Day Mean For Christians?
by Cynthia Genovese – Catholic News
One of the most popular themes in scripture is that of work. When God created Adam, one of the first things He did was assign Adam a job. The task of naming the animals may not seem as strenuous as your 9 to 5 job, but it was work nonetheless. Even after the introduction of woman, mankind was given the command to work the soil of the ground. As a result of Adam and Eve’s sin, work became an even more taxing operation. Though it may have become more difficult, we are still told that work is an important task.
No matter where you go in the Bible, work is valued. In many cases, it is a form of obedience or worship. When Noah built the ark, it was a sign of trusting God and believing that one day the rain would come (despite there never having been any before). That same trust was evident when Nehemiah oversaw the reconstruction of the city of Jerusalem.DOWNLOAD THE BULLETIN
“What if God hasn’t specifically called me to a certain task?” That’s a fair question, as almost none of us will ever receive clear instructions like those that Noah was given for the dimensions of the ark. The Israelites built the Tabernacle exactly according to the specifications of the Lord, but your job in insurance or marketing probably doesn’t easily compare on the same level of spiritual direction. The closest we can come to assurance that our career choices and work ethic are meeting God’s standards is by lining up our attitudes and practices with scripture and praying for direction.
One of the main reasons we do work is not to simply pass the time but because it enables us to provide for our loved ones and make a contribution to our communities, including the church. Even more important is that we perform to the best of our abilities. No matter what kind of job you have, the Bible tells us that we are to do the tasks given to us as well as we possibly can. That verse is found in Colossians 3:23 and it is written with slaves in mind. Imagine what that means for us as we work in cubicles!
As much as we value work as a society, it’s important to remember that humans have limited capabilities. We cannot work ourselves 24/7 without damaging our relationships and health and hindering our potential for ministry growth. There is a troubling notion in the workforce that to take time off is to be lazy. From bosses to entry level employees, some businesses give the impression that using vacation time and holidays for personal leisure is equal to saying that your job doesn’t matter to you. This is simply untrue.
On a Christian level, we need to recognize the difference between rest and laziness. The Bible condemns the latter several times in different contexts. Proverbs contains many references to those who are lazy, essentially saying that they will endure tougher times and be slaves in comparison to those who have discipline. In the New Testament we see the leaders of the early church condemning those who wanted to enjoy the fruits of others labor without contributing themselves. 2 Thessalonians 3 shows that there were those who refused to work and it was causing strife in the church. After all, it hurts the community when only some people are willing to work. Anyone who’s ever been in a church where the same handful of people are relied upon for every activity knows that it isn’t a healthy situation.
Rest is 100% healthy, though. It’s the reason we all enjoy getting a full night’s sleep. When we are willing to prioritize rest, we give ourselves the best opportunity to fully invest in the work we are doing. That’s why those of us who get to enjoy a break on Labor Day should take the time to enjoy it. Whether you have special events scheduled with your family or you’re just looking to take it easy, remember that there’s nothing wrong with rest. The creation account even endorses a day of taking it easy and commands it to be a holy day of rest. On this Labor Day, don’t check those emails from work and enjoy the time that you have with your loved ones. To do so is both in the spirit of the holiday and supported by scripture.