Today is Labor Day in the United States. It’s a holiday. And ironically many people have the day off work.
Labor Day was first purposed by Peter J. McGuire to honor America’s work force. The first Labor Day celebration was on September 5, 1882, in New York City. Today there will be speeches. Parades. Flags will fly. And folks will bar-b-que.
What is lost on many people today, and sadly some Christians, is the spiritual component to work. The Bible has a great deal to say about work and our relationships in our work.
To first century workers, slaves and masters, the apostle Paul issued this exhortation: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.” Eph 6:5-9)
For our physical labor to be pleasing to God, it must be based on spiritual values. Consider these 7 Biblical principles regarding our work.
#1 God wants us to work! The Thessalonians who had quit working and became idle busybodies were commanded “to work” (2 Thess 3:7-12). We are commanded “to work” to provide for our families ( I Timothy 5:8).
In a day of entitlement, avoiding working and living off the labor of others, we need to return to an old-fashioned work ethic. William J. Bennett was right, “there are no menial jobs only menial attitudes.
#2 Perform Your Duties with excellence. Paul commanded the bond servants to work “heartily, as unto the Lord.” That means to “work from the soul.” It means with gusto or enthusiasm! Christians are not slackers! We do our best. We plan. Prepare. And take personal responsibility for our work.
#3 Respect Others in the Workplace. Too often there is a problem of mutual respect in the workplace. Between employees. And employees and employers. Paul told first-century slaves to “obey your earthly master with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ” (Eph. 6:5)
If this was true of those indentured servants, could it be any less true of those who work with benefits and enjoy some of the best working conditions in the world?
#4 Be a Person of Integrity in Your work. Paul commanded, “Do what is honorable in the sight of all” (Rom. 12:17). The ancient wise man wrote, “Honest scales and balances are from the Lord” (Prov. 16:11).
Business ethics should be Christian ethics. Keep your word. Be honest. Represent your product accurately. Do what is right.
#5 Lead by Serving and Serve by Leading. Jesus said, “He that is greatest among you shall be the servant of all.” (Matt 23:11) This fits with Paul’s admonition in Ephesians 6:5-9.
If you are the employee you lead by serving. Doing your work well. Be willing to go “the extra mile.” If you are the boss, treat your employees fairly. Be a servant-leader.
#6 In the Workplace Be and Share the Good News. No, not by preaching on company time! But by being salt and light (Matt. 5:13-16). By living a Christian life. By exhibiting godly values. By exemplifying the character of Christ. By displaying moral virtues.
#7 Realize that in the workplace you serve Christ and not man. The Bible speaks of the Christian worker as “fearing the Lord,” working “as to the Lord, and not to men, ” and “doing the will of God.” As a result, he says “from the Lord you will receive your reward.”
For Christians, work takes on a new meaning. You are not just serving an earthly employer, but a heavenly Master. Your work has a deeper purpose, greater potential and higher motives. The way you work, the values you live by, and the attitudes you display honor God.
Everyone should honor God with their work. From the teacher to the janitor. From bank president to the teller. From the CEO to factory worker. On this Labor Day thank God for the privilege of honest labor and an opportunity to serve Him in your work.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman