Labor Day: A Confusing Holiday

The Labor Day holiday announces the end of summer and confuses the one paying attention. Why do we take off from work on “Labor Day”? I guess it revolves around the same reasons we park in “driveways” and drive on “parkways”!

The origin of the holiday finds its roots in the labor movements of the late 1800’s. The unions of America that helped our nation embrace and thrive during the Industrial Revolution desired a day to celebrate their accomplishments and their role in the future of our land.

Even though there is some debate over the first such celebration, most agree that the first Labor Day parade and picnic was in New York City on September 5, 1882 sponsored by the Central Labor Union and inspired by Matthew McGuire, a machinist from New Jersey.

Speaking of labor, I came across a funny resume of someone looking for a place in the work force. Listen to his recounting of his adventure. He wrote: “My first job was working in an orange juice factory, but I got canned…I couldn’t concentrate. Then I worked in the woods as a lumberjack, but I just couldn’t hack it, so they gave me the axe. Next I tried working in a muffler factory but that was too exhausting, so I attempted to be a deli worker, but any way I sliced it, I couldn’t cut the mustard. My best job was being a musician, but eventually I found it wasn’t noteworthy. After many years of trying to find steady work, I finally got a job as a historian until I realized there was no future in it. So my last job was working at Starbucks, but I had to quit because it was always the same old grind. Please pray for me as I keep looking for just the right job!”

Before you get too critical of this man’s adventures, you need to realize that the average person will hold ten different jobs in his working career. The one consistent reality is that every one of those jobs will require WORK, and sadly for some, WORK is a four letter word!

You did know God created us for work. Remember in the Ten Commandments there is a less than subtle hint about this in the commandment on the Sabbath sacred holiday. The LORD wrote with his own hand on tablets of stone:

“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….” Exodus 20:8-10a NIV

Sadly many have segregated their week into the “sacred” and the “secular,” when God sees everyday as “sacred” in His eyes. Paul instructed the slaves and la-borers of the 1st century saying:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24 NIV

This Labor Day holiday, I pray each of us will celebrate the partnership we have with the LORD in overseeing His creation. Never forget your work matters to God. Go to work on Tuesday with a smile on your face and a determination to make a difference in the world to the glory of God.

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