Today is Labor Day in the United States. Looking back, we can learn from the COVID infestation and the consequences of the isolation it brought to most of us. Those who keep records of such things tell us that in two years of the pandemic, there was a massive increase in divorce, pornography use, drug use and overdoses, and a 39% increase in alcoholism. In my experience, people who retire from their job to the idleness of a rocking chair don’t live very long. When my wife died, I was able to survive the loss by spending 90% of my time in work connected with this ministry.
To students of the Bible, all of this is no surprise. In Genesis 3:19, God told Adam, “By the sweat of your brow, you will eat your food.” The law of Moses was centered around labor – “Six days you shall labor and do all your work” (Exodus 20:9). The inspired Bible writers talked about the fact that work is good for humans physically, mentally, and spiritually. Consider these verses:
Ecclesiastes 5:12 “The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of the rich man will not allow him to sleep.”
Proverbs 6:6 “Go to the ant, you sluggard, consider her ways and be wise.”
Proverbs 14:23 “All hard work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty.”
Proverbs 21:25 “The lazy man’s craving will be the death of him because his hands refuse to work.”
2 Thessalonians 3:10 “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”
Jesus set the example for His followers. He was active and involved in all that was around Him, right up to the time of His death. That was even though His disciples fell asleep because they could not keep up with Him. In the parable of the talents, the man who buried his talent instead of investing it was condemned (Matthew 25:14 – 30).
In that same chapter, Jesus talks about rewards and condemnations for how people use their time and their talents (verses 31-40). Feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, visiting prisoners, taking in the homeless, and ministering to the sick are all activities that involve work.
The pandemic has shown what happens when humans don’t do what God has called them to do. Labor Day in the United States reminds us of the relationship between humans and labor. For Christians, it’s a reminder of what we must do with our time and talent.
— John N. Clayton © 2022