Labor Day 2015: The Christian Ethic for Work and God’s Economy

REV. MARK H. CREECH
REV. MARK H. CREECH

Since the dawn of time, labor has been a part of God’s economy. Work is inherent to our purpose, meaning and dignity.

In 1999, The New York Times reported an incident in an impoverished country. Relief workers distributed food and other necessities to a long line of people who waited patiently. But when they distributed fishing nets, these same people cheered.

The history of the celebration of Labor Day in America can be traced back to the year 1882, during the middle of the Industrial Revolution. It was a time of labor struggles and political protest against intolerable working conditions. People who were a part of the labor movement chose the first Monday in September as the official holiday to honor the contribution that workers “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.” In 1894, Congress made the day a legal national holiday.

Amidst the sound of marching bands at city parades, the smells of an end of summer barbeque, noisy children playing near a picnic spread, or just the tranquility of reading a favorite book under the shade of an old tree, in whatever way Labor Day is celebrated these days, for most Americans the glorious meaning behind it never crosses their minds. But Albert Einstein may have captured its essence in the quote:

“A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.”

Someone once said God must love the working stiff more than others because he made so many of them. D. Elton Trueblood echoed this sentiment when he wrote:

“Wherever the Gospel has been truly influential the concept of the dignity of work has emerged. The change of the conception of work as a curse to work as partnership with God owes more than we ordinarily realize to the witness of Christ. In the first place, far from being a parasite or one above the battle of toil, Christ was a carpenter and His followers were working men. The fact that He was identified with common life rather than a career in professional religion is fundamental to our understanding of Him and His message. He seems to have turned deliberately from the priests to those who were hard working fisherman.”

Attitude is everything when it comes to work. The late TV announcer and second fiddle to Johnny Carson of the famed “Tonight Show,” Ed McMahon, was known as one of the hardest working men in show business.

McMahon said that long before he achieved success in the entertainment field, he had once worked alongside his uncle who was a plumber. His assignment was to clean out the sewage pipes at the local Elks Club. McMahon said the work made him realize he could do any job on Earth and be happy doing it — because any employment was a bed of roses compared to cleaning out sewage pipes.

 

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SOURCE: The Christian Post
Rev. Mark H. Creech

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