The Spirit of Labor Day
Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…”
Have you ever considered the fact that God has a job?
He does! God Himself worked six days and rested on the seventh. His job was and still is creating things. As His Children, we were designed to experience fulfilment and success through hard work as well. And doing so with a Christ-like attitude brings contentment.
Since the Garden of Eden, humans have labored in various capacities. For example: Abel’s brother, Cain, is identified as the first farmer; Moses was a herdsman; the butler of Pharaoh’s palace was a cupbearer; Joseph was a governor; Luke was a physician; Paul was a tent maker; Lydia a merchant; and Christ Jesus was a carpenter.
Paul the Apostle put it this way in Acts 20:35, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus Himself said; ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Paul sought to teach his listeners by example and instruction, that by working –we set an example to those that are weak. The Greek here is important. The word for weak can also mean anyone who needs the support and care, bodily or spiritually, of someone called to minister over them. Paul understood all about Labor Day long before it came into being in 1882. For Paul worked both with his ‘hands’ and with his ‘heart and spirit.’ He combined the two gifts to labor (serve) the call Christ placed upon his life.
Genesis 8:22 says, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” Matthew said it this way, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” (Matthew 9:37)
Remember, Paul’s main job was that of ‘proclamation.’ He pointed his listeners and readers to the truth of the Kingdom, to Christ’s call that we all should participate in some capacity as workers in the fields of men’s souls. Like Jesus Himself, when He saw the lost crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Mark 6:34)
Jesus ‘saw’ the people. He saw every need and heartache and pain and struggle. The question is not whether God wants people saved – but do we? Enough to do something about it?
Our most urgent need in this hour is to recapture the vision of Christ for the hurting masses still lost. We are called to go into every corner of the world and to every class of society, from the untouchables to those sitting on king’s thrones, from the beggar to the millionaire. We are called to go to the barbarous and to the sophisticated, to those on Wall Street and to the homeless sleeping under bridges.
Jesus understood what the spirit of Labor Day was truly all about. Jesus did all he could! “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the Kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.” (Matthew 9:35)
There are four things that are obvious about the ‘Fields White for Harvest.’ First, the Harvest (people) is plentiful. Second, the Harvest is precious in the sight of God (He died for the sinner). Third, the Harvest is helpless – like sheep without a shepherd. And fourth, the Harvest is perishing.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 55 million people died in 2011. That’s 151,000 people each day. Out of that 55 million people, less than 29.2% have heard the Gospel. So, just about 2.1 billion people in the world are still un-evangelized.
We must ask the question – how important is a man’s soul? Did you know that the soul is the real ‘you’ and capable of feeling: sadness, pain, love, joy and various emotions? But the soul never dies. (Matthew 10:28) A man’s soul is more valuable than anything the world can offer. (Matthew 16:26) And a man’s soul will live forever in either heaven or hell – unless it is converted. (John 5:24; Luke 16:22-23)
It is a humbling lesson, but learn it well. The Lord Jesus Christ did not come to earth as a man, suffer verbal persecution, suffer physical torture, suffer great mental anguish, suffer an unjust judgment, shed His precious blood, get nailed to a cross, and die a miserable death because you and I are worth it.
No sir, no ma’am!
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like a filthy rag; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind, our iniquities sweep us away. Isaiah 64.5
The spotless Lamb of God did all of this for us because we are wretched, poor, hell-bound, destitute sinners. He did it because of His nature, mercy, grace and His love – a truth lost in this selfish egotistical society. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit did not love the world because the world was worth loving; no, He loved the world because it is His divine nature to love those which are of-themselves un-loveable. Humanists argue that humanity is valuable in and of itself—that humanity is valuable for no other reason than being human. This is the dichotomy in our existence.
“We rail against God to be our own, rejecting His claim to us. In so doing, we also give up His higher purpose and reason for humanity, leaving us free to claim ourselves, yet we cannot live coherently with the hopelessness of that rejection. In short it states, ‘I am my own,’ and then relentlessly asks, ‘But what am I?’ ” (Billington, p. 25).
My only value, truth told, lies in the fact that my mind, body, soul and spirit have been redeemed and made ‘new’ by Him taking my place on the cross.
“Modern man thought that when he had gotten rid of God, he had freed himself from all that repressed and stifled him. Instead, he discovered that in killing God, he had also killed himself. For if there is no God, then man’s life becomes absurd.” (The Absurdity of life with God, Craig, 2015).
Let me tell you a very important story. Stay with me! It goes like this.
Billions of people were scattered on a great plain before God’s throne. Some of the groups near the front talked heatedly — not with cringing shame, but with belligerence. “How can God judge us?” said one. “What does he know about suffering?” snapped a brunette. She jerked back a sleeve to reveal a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp. “We endured terror, beatings, torture, and death!” In another group a man lowered his collar. “What about this?” he demanded, showing an ugly rope burn. “Lynched for no crime but being black! We have suffocated in slave ships, been wrenched from loved ones, and toiled till death gave release.” A well- dressed woman stepped forward and said, “I never did anything to hurt anyone and I taught Sunday school for nine years; certainly he can’t judge me.”
Far out across the plain were hundreds of such groups. Each had a complaint against God for the evil and suffering He permitted in His world. How lucky God was to live in Heaven where there was no weeping, no fear, no hunger, no hatred! Indeed, what did God know about what man had been forced to endure in this world? They all agreed, “God leads a pretty sheltered life.” So each group sent out a leader, chosen because he had suffered the most. There was a Jew, a black, an untouchable from India, an illegitimate person, a victim of Hiroshima, and one from a Siberian slave camp. In the center of the plain they consulted with each other. At last they were ready to present their case. It was rather simple: Before God would be qualified to be their judge; He must endure what they had endured. Their decision was that God “should be sentenced to live on earth — as a man!” But because He was God, they set certain safeguards to be sure He could not use His divine powers to help Himself: Let Him be born a Jew. Let the legitimacy of His birth be doubted, so that none would know who His father really is. Let Him champion a cause so just, but so radical, that it brings down upon Him the hate, condemnation, and efforts of every major traditional and established religious authority to eliminate Him. Let Him try to describe what no man has ever seen, tasted, heard, or smelled — let Him try to communicate God to men. Let Him be betrayed by His dearest friends. Let Him be indicted on false charges, tried before a prejudiced jury, and convicted by a cowardly judge. Let Him see what it is to be terribly alone and completely abandoned by every living thing. Let Him be tortured and let Him die! Let Him die the most humiliating death — with common thieves. As each leader announced his portion of the sentence, loud murmurs of approval went up from the great throngs of people. But when the last had finished pronouncing sentence, there was a long silence. No one uttered another word. No one moved. For suddenly all knew: God had already served His sentence because of His divine grace and love. All this – because of the value of your soul and mine.
Listen, dear friend – consider these three important points:
First, without God, the human soul has no hope and no ultimate meaning.
Second, without God, and serving him, life is absolute absurdity.
Third, and lastly, if one lives without God, and the end is simply the grave, without any hope of heaven, then it makes no difference where one lives as a Stalin or a saint.
God does exist so the human soul and humanity have good reason to trust a loving all-knowing Creator to guide us to that which brings peace, joy, contentment, and ultimately life-eternal with our Heavenly Father. Contrary to what the atheistic humanists teach, life does have value. Not because of us, but because of HIM. He gave his life, so that our lives would have value, meaning and wholeness.
Biblical Christianity therefore provides the two conditions necessary for a meaningful, valuable, and purposeful life for man: God and immortality. Because of this, we can live consistently and happily, enjoying working with both our ‘hands’ and our ‘hearts and spirits’ just like the Apostle Paul. And like our Lord, participating in reaching human souls with the love our Christ.
That, dear friend is, the true spirit and meaning of Labor Day.
This month when you’re with friends or family sitting by the pool side, or barbecuing your favorite steak, or watching your favorite sports team – ask yourself this question, “What have I done this week, this month or even this year to reach out to a lost soul? What have I given to send laborers into the ‘fields white for harvest?’ Have I handed out a single tract, witnessed to just one lost soul on my job, or cried a tear for my lost neighbor who is suffering from cancer?”
“I look upon the giving away of a religious tract as only the first step for action, not to be compared with many another deed done for Christ; but were it not for the first step we might never reach to the second, but that first attained, we are encouraged to take another, and so at the last… There is a real service of Christ in the distribution of the gospel in its printed form, a service the result of which heaven alone shall disclose, and the judgment day alone discover. How many thousands have been carried to heaven instrumentally upon the wings of these tracts, none can tell…” – Charles Spurgeon
Spurgeon continues, “Do you want arguments for soul winning? Look up to Heaven, and ask yourself how sinners can ever reach those harps of gold and learn their everlasting song, unless they have someone to tell them of Jesus, who is mighty to save. But the best argument of all is to be found in the wounds of Jesus. You want to honor Him, you desire to put many crowns upon His head, and this you can best do by winning souls for Him. These are the spoils that He covets, these are the trophies for which He fights; these are the jewels that shall be His best adornment.”
Dear friend, I have learned one important lesson in life, to fully understand the spirit of Labor Day is to grasp the joy, and yes, the reward of soul winning. If we really love the souls of men, let us prove it by: writing a check to missions, giving out a tract, sharing Christ with our waitress, visiting the sick, helping to clothe the naked, visiting those in prison and feeding those that are lost with God’s precious Word – which is all labor – but, with an eternal reward!
Meet the Author
Alan Bullock has a BA in Biblical Studies, a Master’s Degree in Biblical Counseling, and an earned Doctor of Theology. In addition, Alan is a Certified Pastor Counselor, a member of The International Association of Christian Counseling Professionals (IACCP), and also a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC).