Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. (Colossians 3:23)
Today, the first Monday in September, is Labor Day, a holiday that honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the United States. For the Christian, it is also a time to reflect on work as worship. I have said here before that work is a gift from God, given to mankind in the Garden of Eden before the fall of Adam and Eve. (If you’d like, you can click on this link to hear “The Gift Of Work” sermon, which I preached on May 2, 2021.)
Our first parent’s terrible act of cosmic treason in the Garden brought a curse upon work, but work is still a good gift given to us by our good God. To be sure, work is more difficult since man’s sinful rebellion, but I would emphasize that work is nonetheless a good gift that is to be used to expand the cause of God’s kingdom for His glory.
Principles for work proliferate throughout sacred Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation. All work is to be seen as a gift from God. All work is good work. All work is to be done for the glory of God. And there is no such thing as sacred work, as opposed to secular work. Whether we are working as a butcher, baker, or candlestick maker, we are doing good work, as long as we are working for the glory of God.
Here are three things to reflect on regarding Labor in the Lord.
Work is a GIFT from God.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it (Genesis 2:15).
This took place before the fall. Work is not a punishment from God, as some imagine; work is His good and gracious gift to us.
Work is for the GLORY of God.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men (Colossians 3:23).
Yes, most of us work out of necessity, in order to earn money to pay for our food and shelter. But our hearts are to be fixed on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), and we are to work for His glory, not ours.
Work is for the GOOD of others.
Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
Jesus said that the second greatest commandment, after first loving God, is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). When we put these two truths from Matthew’s gospel side by side, we understand that we are always to be working to bless others, that they may see the grace and glory of God reflected in our attitude and actions.
We have all been given gifts, talents, and abilities to do work that honors our Lord. Christians are to occupy every sphere of the work force, because all work is an act of worship when it is done for the glory of God to expand the cause of His Kingdom.
I’d like to raise one final point about your Labor in the Lord. We must always remember God’s formula for work:
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work. (Exodus 20:8-10)
On this Labor Day, let us remember that work is a great gift from God . . . and so is rest. Make no mistake, our God can do much more with our six days of work than we could ever do by working all seven on our own. Work and rest are the rhythm of the Christian life of Labor in the Lord. When we see work as a gift from God for the glory of God, our work will be performed for the good of others, and human flourishing will be the great and glorious increase that God will provide.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!