I’ve always wondered why they call it Labor Day when most folks get the day off from their labor. Why don’t they call it “Rest Day” or “Piddle Around Day” or “Do Nothing Day”? I think any of those titles would more aptly suit the holiday.
The day became an official federal holiday in 1894 following a labor dispute between labor unions and the railroads called the Pullman Strike.
In our culture Labor Day marks the official end of summer. The tourist season slows, women decide not to wear white any more, and football season usually kicks off during the Labor Day weekend. It’s a time to honor our working men and women and to focus on our work.
Statistics show that we spend 40% to 65% of our day doing something. Whatever that something is will contribute to our success in life. Often times, and for many people today, work has become a God. Workers see their jobs as a necessary mentality. They work so they can have what they want and do what they want. These folks worship what work can do for them.
Some get lost in their “careers.” They believe climbing the ladder of success will bring them the happiness they crave. So they spend 70 or 80 hours a week at their work. And what they don’t finish at work they bring home to finish. In the process, everyone and everything else gets neglected. They’re workaholics.
Some folks are just lazy at work. They work so they can have what they want and do what they want as well, just like the workaholics. But their mentality is different. They go to work, do their jobs (exerting as little effort as possible), look for opportunities to get out of work, surf the Internet, take long breaks, do personal work on company time, watch the clock, and dash out the door at the end of the day. To them work is a chore. A burden. A means to a paycheck.
But God didn’t create work to be a chore. God created work to bring man contentment and Him glory. God placed Adam in a perfect work environment. The first thing God said to Adam was, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28. Work, Adam, work. Work is a good thing. Proverbs 14:23 says, “In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Working God’s way brings us blessings and God honor.
Work God’s way begins with humility. In Philippians 2:5-11 we read about Christ’s humility when He came to earth, taught and ministered, was crucified, resurrected and glorified. Our salvation is based solely on the work Christ did for us on the cross. We are brand new creations, we were made to be like Christ, we were all given a purpose, and we were all equipped to do the work God gives us to do.
We have a responsibility to do the work God gave us. Philippians 2:11b-12 says, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” God has placed in us all the tools we need to accomplish His purpose for us. But, God does the work in us. We can not do the work on our own. We need God’s salvation and His grace if we are to work God’s way.
In Ephesians we discover where our salvation comes from. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-11. Those verses don’t contradict each other. Grace saved us. Period. Then God gave us talents and gifts to do the work He prepared for us.
Colossians defines God’s work ethic. “Whatever you do, do your work heartily as if unto the Lord.” Colossians 3:23. In other words work with intensity and focus. In whatever you do, whether you are an attorney, a painter, a salesperson, a grocery clerk, or a stay-at-home mom work at it with diligence and to the point of exhaustion. Whatever you do, pour yourself into it as if the Lord were your supervisor and watching you work. Would you work with discipline and focus? Or would you be lazy?
The Lord wants us to do what we need to do when we need to do it. That is discipline. And if we neglect our work, if we don’t maintain that intensity and dilligence, we’ll feel a gravitational pull away from it. The result will be slothfullness and laziness. Proverbs gives us a vivid image of the one who neglects their work. “I passed by the field of the sluggard and by the vineyard of the man lacking sense, and behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles; its surface was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. When I saw, I reflected upon it. I looked and received instruction. “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, then your poverty will come as a robber and your want like an armed man.” Proverbs 24:30-34.
The key word in those verses is “little”. Sloth creeps in gradually. The pull away is subtle. That’s exactly how Satan wants to destroy our work. Soon we drift into laziness and sloth.
So, how do we work God’s way?
First, we work on our spiritual development. Developing our personal relationship with Christ is crucial for us to develop God’s work ethic.
Second, we need to work at our God ordained relationships in our marriage, our family and with our friends. Ask yourself,” What relationships do I need to work on?”
Third, work on your personal development. We all have talents and gifts we received from God to do work. Sometimes we develop an attitude that we’re somehow “good enough,” that we’ve “made it” and don’t need to work any more to improve our gifts and abilities. If we don’t exercise our gifts they become useless. They resemble what happens when someone breaks an arm. The inactivity over an extended period causes the arm muscles to atrophy. If we don’t continue exercising our gifts and talents, they’ll atrophy and become useless. If we develop that attitude God can’t work in and through us as effectively.
Here are some tips for working God’s way:
Make a To Be list – Our work for God is not about what we do but who we are. What kind of a husband do you want to be? What kind of mother? What kind of teacher? What kind of wife? What kind of musician? What kind of student? Write your “I want to be’s” down and start working on ways to improve who you want to be.
Make a To Do List – Divide your tasks into three categories: A – Things that are important, B – Things that need to get done, and C – Things I can get around to. Don’t do the C’s first.
Memorize Philippians 4:13. And believe it.
Do first things first.
Tackle the most important and hardest things at the peak hours of production in your day. A classmate of mine in 8th grade, Ted Jenson, always wore short sleeve shirts on test days, even on the coldest winter days. We lived in Iowa so we had lots of cold winter days. Our teacher asked him why he wore short sleeved shirts on cold days and Ted said it was because the body and brain perform better in cold temperatures and at 10 o’clock in the morning. Ted was a genius and finished college at 17, so we really couldn’t argue with him.
Work in blocks of time without interruption.
Ask a close friend whom you trust to hold you accountable to stay on track with your work priorities, lists and work ethic.
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How are your work habits. Have you ever thought that knowing Jesus as your personal Savior could change your life and your work? If you’d like to know more about God and what He can do in your life, simply follow this link to learn more.