At Work & Theology 101

Can We Actually Celebrate Work on Labor Day?

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Labor Day, celebrated the first Monday in September, was created by the labor movement of the 19th century and is a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the United States. It’s interesting that a day set aside to honor hard work is celebrated by not working. It’s a purely secular holiday if ever there was one.

But for Christians, nothing is secular, so how do we use this Labor Day Holiday? I suggest using it as a time of reflection and for giving thanks. While work is a challenge because of the fall, it also is a gift from God. While you enjoy your holiday, here are seven reasons we can celebrate God’s gift of work on Labor Day.

Work Is Ordained by God

The Bible begins with God working in the opening chapters of Genesis, creating the heavens and the earth. Created in his image, we too were created to work.We read in Genesis  2:15 that,

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

As part of our job description God gave us the task of ruling over and taking care of his creation.

Work Was Not Created as a Punishment for Sin

God created work before the Fall, in part to bring dignity and fulfillment to our lives. In the book of Ecclesiastes we read that a person “…can do nothing better than…find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” (Eccles. 2:24-25)

Work Glorifies God

God is most glorified when his creation operates as it was designed. When we bring about biblical flourishing through our work in our churches, our families, our communities, or our jobs, we provide the world with a glimpse of the way things are supposed to be. We also bring glory to God.

Work Serves the Common Good

To paraphrase the great reformer Martin Luther, the number one way we can love our neighbor is to do our jobs well. When we serve God in our vocations, the work we do combines with the work of others to bring about flourishing in our communities, cities, and the world.

Work Calls for Obedience

Work gives us an opportunity to exercise our obedience to Christ in all that we do, consistently working based on his design and desire for our lives. We must hold ourselves to a higher standard than those only working for an earthly boss (Col. 3:22). Those of us who are employers must also treat our employees fairly and with respect, knowing that we too are held to a higher standard.

Work Provides a Dual Opportunity for Witness

When we work “as unto the Lord,” with excellence, we provide a powerful message, both verbal and nonverbal, to the power of Christ at work within us. While we don’t have to be perfect, when we share the good news of the Gospel with our co-workers, it will be taken much more seriously if the effects are visible in our own lives (Matt. 5:16).

Work Is Spiritual in Nature, Regardless of Our Calling  

All work that God calls his people to do is important to him and brings honor to those who perform it. Whether you have been called to be a pastor, a CEO, or a stay-at-home parent, every kind of job is equally important and honorable before the Lord. In God’s economy, there is no separation between sacred and secular work. All of our work should bring glory to God, serve the common good, and further God’s kingdom. (1 Cor. 10:31).

Editor’s note: Learn more about why we can celebrate the biblical meaning of work in How Then Should We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work.

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