By: Gary L. Hutchens
Tomorrow we celebrate Labor Day, a federal holiday set aside to honor the working people of this nation. The first Labor Day was celebrated on Sept. 5, 1882 in New York City. It was made a national holiday in 1894. While the holiday was originally designed to recognize organized labor, it has become a holiday for all workers. For many, it marks the end of summer and begins the activities of the fall season. It is somewhat interesting that a day designated as Labor Day is celebrated with a day taken off from laboring.
Tomorrow will also be a Labor Day of a different sort. For a faithful Christian everyday is a day to work and serve the Lord. Each day should be spent working in the kingdom of God. Jesus Himself gave us the example in this regard: “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (Jn. 9:4). He said He needed to be diligent to do what God sent Him to do, because His time to get that work done was limited.
Similarly, the time available to us to accomplish the work that God has for us to do is limited by our own life span. There is work for each of us to do on an individual basis, and there is work for the church to do collectively. “Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (Jn. 4:35).
Who, if not us, will do the work of teaching the gospel and leading the lost to salvation? God gives the increase, but we are the ones who must do the sowing and watering of the seed, God’s word: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor” (1 Cor. 3:6-8). The harvest is there in the fields, but we must be the laborers who work those fields. “Then He said to them, ‘The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’” (Lk. 10:2).
We cannot work enough earn our salvation, but God has designed us to be working Christians. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:8-10). We are to be “zealous for good works” (Tit. 2:14). James went into great detail emphasizing the fact that true faith, complete faith, is faith that works (Jas. 2:14-26). Indeed, he pointedly stated that “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (vs. 17).
As long as we walk faithfully “in Christ,” everyday is a Labor Day. But our labor in serving our Lord is not drudgery, or tedious. It is a joyous labor enhanced by expectation, a labor that carries God’s promise of eternal reward: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9)…
Gary L. Hutchens