What do you think about when you hear the word labor?
If you're female, and you've had kids, your mind probably goes to those fun moments leading up to birth.
Others might think about work – and labor means hard work by definition – (physical or mental exertion, especially when difficult or exhausting). Synonyms include toil, exertion, drudgery, effort.
No matter what, the word labor doesn't seem to conjure up the *fun stuff*, does it?
So, today is Labor Day.
According to Wikipedia, "Labor Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September, that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers. It was first nationally recognized in 1894 to placate unionists following the Pullman Strike (a nationwide railroad strike)."
OK, that makes sense.
But this was the extra part that I loved:
"With the decline in union membership, the holiday is generally viewed as a time for barbeques and the end of summer vacations."
Sounds so **American** huh???
Mom, apple pie, and barbeque!! ☺
So, I hope that most of you are not experiencing labor pains or working too hard on this Labor Day 2013. I hope you're relaxing, having fun, eating too much, and enjoying some fun in the sun.
That's what I'm going to be doing.
Might you just take a few moments and consider this?
What does the Bible say about labor?
Well, it says quite a bit actually. But I'd like to focus on three things.
First, when we work, we should work hard.
We should look at whatever *work* we do as something that we are really doing for the Lord. We should treat it as a mission, a calling, a God-ordained purpose. Whatever we do, whether we work in or outside the home, I think He wants us to be industrious.
And, we should be conscious of setting a good example for the "cloud of witnesses" that watches what we do as believers. To be honest, I don't wake up every morning remembering that I am an ambassador for Christ. But I think I should.
So, let's represent our heavenly home well, and be diligent agents for the cause of our King.
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…" (Colossians 3:23, NIV)
"For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living…" (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, ESV)
(I just picked two verses – there are countless others applauding the necessity and virtue of hard work)
Second, no task is considered small in the Kingdom of God.
Oh, how we humans love to compare and contrast. It seems we rarely ever do anything just for the inherent value of the work itself. We're continually looking at the "other guy."
Even the disciples were prone to this cursed game.
"About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, 'Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?'" (Matthew 18:1, NLT)
"Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came over and spoke to him. 'Teacher,' they said, 'we want you to do us a favor.'
'What is your request?' he asked.
They replied, 'When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.'"
(Mark 10:35-37, NLT)
Frankly, I'd be embarrassed for James and John if I hadn't asked the Lord my own version of those questions a time or two (or hundred).
Sometimes I get discouraged thinking that I'm not doing enough. Some of it is motivated by a true desire to serve God. But often, I’m driven by the compare/contrast trap. And, if I'm completely honest, I often want to do bigger things because I want to be more noticed.
Ah, the quicksand of seeking the approval of men.
But God does not look at work in this way.
In fact, He turned it all upside down when He said this:
"But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then."
(Matthew 19:30, NLT)
God looks at what we do through His eyes, His perspective, His purposes. Not a one of us is useless or extraneous to the important work of the Kingdom.
I once blogged about being a big toe in the Body of Christ (here). I think it's good to remember that ALL of us contribute, and NOTHING is ever too small if done in the name of the Lord, for HIS glory!
"Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."
(1 Corinthians 15:58, ESV)
"Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin…" (Zechariah 4:10, NLT)
Finally, we will be rewarded for our work.
You know, sometimes I feel guilty when I receive compliments. Why? Because I get this inner thrill inside of me.
I've struggled for many years over this issue.
Is it wrong to be glad when someone recognizes our work and applauds it?
I have suffered terrible angst over the happiness I feel when I am able to connect to someone through either my written or spoken words. I judge that I am feeling this way only because I'm taking credit for it.
After all, I've been taught all my life that we should not boast except in the Lord Jesus.
So, in sort of a reverse *un-pride* I've dismissed people's reactions and remarks. I've pushed aside those good feelings I get. I've squelched the boost to my self-esteem, as I've labeled this response as egotistical.
But, in the end, it seems that all I've really accomplished is getting myself very, very discouraged.
Yup, in an effort to be a good "Christian," all I've succeeded in doing is giving the enemy a mighty stranglehold on my heart.
Think bushel – hiding my light under a bushel.
That's not right either.
I've actually concluded these three things:
1) The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit gives us gifts, and we are told to
2) When we use our gifts for the Lord's sake, and for the sake of His body of believers, and for the advancement of His Kingdom, we will feel JOY.
3) Part of our mission as His disciples is to SHINE.
In an unbelievable act of grace, God also promises us rewards. He knows how He made us. He knows we need to feel a sense of accomplishment. He knows it's important to be recognized and shown approved.
And you know what?
He really likes giving pats on the back!
It's OK to work for a reward. It's part of our inheritance, it's part of God's promise to us, it's part of what we were made for.
I personally think I'm going to look pretty good in a crown…just sayin'!!
"Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ." (Colossians 3:24, NLT)
"His lord said unto him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.'" (Matthew 25:23, KJV)
So, on this Labor Day, may we look at *work* in Biblical terms – considering all we do as a labor of love.
Let's work hard.
Let's always remember that no work is too small.
And let's never forget that we will be well-rewarded for our efforts.
It's all for HIM.
All for HIS GLORY!
From sunrise to sunset,
commit your work to the Lord.
How do you need to change the way you view work?
Linked today with:
Michelle at HEAR IT ON SUNDAY, USE IT ON MONDAY
Joan at SHARING HIS BEAUTY
Hazel at TELL ME A TRUE STORY
Jen at UNITE
Darlene at TITUS 2SDAY
Tracy at WINSOME WEDNESDAY
Rachel at WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYS
Shari at WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY
Laura at FAITH FILLED FRIDAY
Charlotte at SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS
Barbie at WEEKEND BREW
BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"