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Monday, September 07, 2015

Labor Day, 2015

Today is America's Labor Day in which we celebrate those whose hard work have brought strength and prosperity to our country. Sadly, it was originally established as a celebration of labor unions. Suggested by Matthew Maguire, secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists, in 1882, it became a national holiday in 1887. But we've forgotten that for the most part and just celebrate those who have jobs.

It's interesting, though. Many -- even Christians -- regard work as a curse. The dream of just sitting back and doing nothing is regarded as a wonderful thing. Christians see Genesis 3 as proof that it was a curse, a result of sin (Gen 3:17-18). As it turns out, the text doesn't say that. In fact, Adam was "gainfully employed" before sin ever showed up on the scene. His first job was to name the animals (Gen 2:19). After Eve joined him, he was promoted to "multiply and fill the earth and subdue it", the biggest gardening job ever. Sin, then, didn't bring about a curse of work. Work was already in the garden and already classified by God as "very good" (Gen 1:31). No, sin brought about hard labor.

So work is a good thing. Paul wrote, "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." (1 Tim 5:8) He urged the Thessalonians, "Work with your hands, as we instructed you" (1 Thess 4:11). Christians are commanded to "do their work quietly and to earn their own living." (2 Thess 3:12) Indeed, we read this striking statement, "If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat." (2 Thess 3:10) God's plan is for work. In fact, we are to "work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men." (Col 3:23)

You see, Christians don't have jobs or careers. We have vocations. We have callings. We aren't working for others. "You are serving the Lord Christ." (Col 3:24) Our task is to serve God where we are. We are to be ministers as repairmen or secretaries, managers or janitors, researchers or pastors. We are to lose that "sacred" versus "secular" line and operate as ministers all the time. Ministers of the gospel. Ministers to the needs of others. Even ministers to the families we are supporting.

You know, when it is no longer just "work" or "labor", but ministry, somehow it doesn't seem right calling it a curse. And it would seem to me those who do their work for the Lord ought to be celebrated. I would think today would be a good day for that.

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