The Meaning of Labor Day

As I write this article it is late afternoon on Monday, September 7—Labor Day. By the time you read this, the holiday will have passed and I hope you had a good one whether you traveled, cooked out, or stayed home and watched the Braves lose to the Marlins by a run in the 10th inning. Of course, you would have had to watch it on YouTube.

Labor Day is the holiday that we honor the American workforce, of which most of us are a part of that great economic institution. The term “labor” doesn’t always have a positive meaning for everyone. To some, it might mean drudgery or routine, repetitive, demeaning toil. As used in the fourth of God’s Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5:13 – “six days you shall labor and do all your work,” however, the Hebrew word “abad” means rather to “serve” and is so translated 214 times in the Bible. Only one other time is it translated “labor” and that is in the first interpretation of the commandments (Exodus 20:9). Thus, the command could well be read: “Six days you shall ‘serve’…”

Furthermore, the word for “work” (Hebrew ‘melakah’) does not mean slave-like or subservient labor, but “dutyship” or “stewardship.” The one whom we are to serve or act as deputy for, of course, is God himself when we do our work. In the ultimate and very real sense, the Lord is our employer, and we serve Him, not man. That is what Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” Every honest occupation should be done in such a manner as to bring glory and honor to our Lord Jesus Christ. Every Christian who holds this perspective on his or her work, whatever that may be, is in the Christian ministry – for “ministry” simply means “service.” Bro. Jeff affirmed this in his message yesterday that we are all ministers.
One day we want to hear Jesus say, “well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your Lord (Matthew 25:21). Then, throughout all eternity, “his servants shall serve Him” (Revelation 2) with everlasting joy!

Please remember that we all have the opportunity to be “ministers” on Saturday afternoon, September 19 at Eastmont as we serve those who are in need of food through the food distribution ministry.