Countercultural Reasons to Celebrate This Labor Day Weekend

by | Aug 30, 2017 | Purpose & Identity

Labor Day is a much-loved three-day weekend in the United States. This national holiday speaks of grilling out, family picnics and summer’s last hurrah ahead of the harsh realities of back to school and even the winter to come. However, the labor it celebrates just may not be as beloved as the holiday itself. I certainly understand everyone loves a special day off, and Labor Day comes at a particularly beautiful “end-of-summer” moment. Family fun and one last fling at the lake are a welcome weekend to be sure, but what about labor, the work from which we take the weekend off?  The value of the holiday is self-evident to a recreation-minded culture such as that of the U.S. Work itself? Maybe not so much.

In fact, there is an actual anti-work message that percolates through Western culture at certain levels. Often it is expressed as a sort of joke, a playful poke at the Protestant work ethic.

In My Fair Lady, Liza’s incorrigible father, Alfred Doolittle, sings a joyful celebration of laziness and goldbricking: 

“The Lord above gave man an arm of iron, to do his job and never shirk/ But with a little bit of luck, with a little bit of luck/ Someone else will do the blinkin’ work.”

It’s good-natured Broadway fun, of course, but the old scoundrel is not so fun when he attempts to exploit, manipulate and even extort money from poor Liza. Laziness and sloth often lead to a host of other even more dangerous sins. Isn’t it interesting that this anthem to sloth is sung by a man named Doolittle? Doing little, as little as possible is the goal of his ilk.

In 1928, decades before Lerner and Lowe put words in the mouth of the reprehensible Alfred Doolittle, one Haywire Mac (actually Harry McClintock) recorded a country music classic about hobo life, “The Big Rock Candy Mountain.” Some of the lyrics are as follows.

“There ain’t no short-handled shovels/ No axes, saws nor picks/ I’m bound to stay/ Where you sleep all day/ Where they hung the jerk/ That invented work/ In the Big Rock Candy Mountains … .”

Again, Haywire Mac’s song is good-natured enough, I suppose. The problem is that the “jerk who invented work” is God Almighty. In the first three verses of Genesis 3 (KJV), work is mentioned three times and in all three, God is the one working. God invented work, modeled it and gave it as a gift to humanity.

Some have mistakenly concluded that work is the result of the fall of humanity. Nothing could be further from the truth. God gave man meaningful work to do in the Garden of Eden. Adam was the gardener. In the fall, nature itself was corrupted by Adam’s own rebellion. Work was not part of the curse. It was a blessed part of life in Eden. Work, like every other blessing in Eden, including love, life, family, sex and nature, suffered from Adam’s fall.

There are many ways in which work is a blessing from God. Here are but a few.

  1. Work is a means to provide for others, especially our families. The next time you are tempted to complain about your job, consider life in Haiti, where the unemployment rate is 85 percent. Work grants us the ability to care for our families instead of falling heir to the contemporary cure of life on the government dole. Work is not demeaning. Welfare can be.
  2. Work is a means to serve and bless others, and to be a blessing in the kingdom. With the sweat of our brows, we can tithe to the church, contribute to other charities and pave the way for those who will come after us. Work enables us to be givers and not takers.
  3. Work is a means of expressing our strength, gifts and creativity. It is a way to find a meaningful sense of personal satisfaction. Whether it is by laying brick, programming a sophisticated computer or cleaning public bathrooms, our work can and should give us personal satisfaction. Finished with cleaning a toilet, we should take pride in the job well done.
  4. Work is a means to glorify God. We are called upon to do all that we do to God’s glory, and that includes hard work.
  5. Work affords us a means to witness. When others ask how we can work so well, so hard and take such satisfaction in the job, we can be quick to give God the glory.
  6. Finally, work makes rest meaningful. After six days of work, God rested. The rest means nothing without the work. We are not to be obsessed with work, never resting, never able to turn off the phone or take a day off. Sabbath rest is also a gift of God, but it means nothing without the gift of work. {eoa}

Dr. Mark Rutland is president of both Global Servants (globalservants.org) and the National Institute of Christian Leadership (thenicl.com). A renowned communicator and New York Times best-selling author, he has more than 30 years of experience in organizational leadership, having served as a senior pastor and a university president.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

What to Give Jesus for Christmas

What to Give Jesus for Christmas

The average holiday household budget for Christmas 2022 is projected to be $823. Each year, many Americans celebrate Christmas with an outpouring of gift-giving. Christians are no exception. During the Christmas season of 30 years ago, we estimated that many Christian...

Biblical Prophecy Is Unfolding as the World Turns Against Israel

Biblical Prophecy Is Unfolding as the World Turns Against Israel

Read time: 2 minutes 20 seconds Christians across the globe believe they are living in the End Times. And evidence continues to pile up in that belief's corner. The world is currently enduring a conglomeration of events that are all predicted to occur in the Bible,...

How Real Hope Can Change Your Life

How Real Hope Can Change Your Life

Read Time: 3 Minutes 55 Seconds For many years, I was an extremely negative person. I could walk into a room and pick out the one small detail that was wrong, like the wallpaper in the corner that was slightly peeling. I saw what was wrong with everything! The reason...

Bible Verse of the Day, Dec. 9th: Advent Season, Micah 5:2-3

Bible Verse of the Day, Dec. 9th: Advent Season, Micah 5:2-3

Micah 5:2-3 But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, although you are small among the tribes of Judah, from you will come forth for Me one who will be ruler over Israel. His origins are from of old, from ancient days. Therefore He will give them up, until the time when she who...

7 Different States of the Human Condition Related to God

7 Different States of the Human Condition Related to God

Read Time: 4 Minutes 14 Seconds The scripture teaches us that all humanity (at least subconsciously) knows God, which is why no one will have an excuse before the judgment seat of Christ (Rom. 1:20). God has also set an intuited sense of eternity in every human...

RECENT ARTICLES

Controversial Megachurch Pastor Greg Locke Gets Candid About His Censorship

Read Time: 1 minute 30 seconds A few weeks ago, Pastor Greg Locke was censored by YouTube after they accused him of "violating their Community Guidelines." We sat down with Locke for an exclusive...
Prophetic Words: End of Year Prophecies to Guide You into 2023

Prophetic Words: End of Year Prophecies to Guide You into 2023

Chris Reed's Prophetic Word Over China: Unprecedented mass protests are unfolding right now across China. The country is seeing the largest pushback in decades, following their "zero COVID strategy" still in place today. China's Communist Party has continued to...

Declaring a Great Awakening Among Prodigals

Declaring a Great Awakening Among Prodigals

Read Time: 1 Minute 23 Seconds It’s a shocking statistic! More than 80 and up to 90% of children who grow up in church are leaving the church once they reach 18. Sadly, only 40% return, according to Focus on the Family. I believe, with prayer, we can defy those...

COGIC Bishop Derrick Hutchins Sr. Dies at 65

COGIC Bishop Derrick Hutchins Sr. Dies at 65

Read Time: 1 Minute 59 Seconds Bishop J. Drew Sheard and the General Board of the Eastern Florida Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of the Church of God in Christ announced Tuesday the death of one of its most beloved leaders, Bishop Derrick Hutchins Sr. Hutchins was 65....

Pin It on Pinterest