A Pastor’s Ponderings: Labor Day – A Spiritual Reflection on Work and Rest

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By Doug Stauffer, Pastor, Faith Independent Baptist Church

Labor Day, for many, signifies the end of summer, the beginning of a new school year, and a day off work and school. But when viewed spiritually, Labor Day takes on a far greater significance. Labor Day becomes a celebration of our labor, the spiritual essence of work and the sanctity of rest.

The Bible repeatedly emphasizes the significance of work in human life. Whether it’s the biblical notion of Adam tilling the Garden of Eden, David tending the sheep or Jesus working as a carpenter, work is an integral component of the human experience. Work is how we find purpose, how we serve our communities and how we align ourselves with God’s divine order. The Bible says, “… let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” (Ephesians 4:28b) I learned early in my Christian walk that we work not to GET, but to enable us to GIVE to others. Hard workers are the best givers!

This biblical emphasis and these examples remind us that no job is insignificant in the eyes of the Almighty. God honors every noble profession with inherent dignity when approached with dedication and sincerity. Yet, most people do not realize how much God values work.

The Bible says, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) The emphasis here is on those who choose not to work, rather than those incapable of doing so. It’s a potent reminder of God’s expectations for each of us. Teach your children to work, and they will have a greater appreciation of the character of God. If you nurture laziness in your children, they will haunt you for the rest of their days. 😊

Work, in its spiritual essence, isn’t merely about the tasks we complete or the wages we earn. It embodies the inner transformation that unfolds when we dedicate ourselves to any job. When approached with passion, love and integrity, work isn’t just a means to earn a living, but a vessel for personal growth. It cultivates virtue and contributes to the greater good of society. Is there any wonder why unrelenting forces are busy undermining the work ethic? Young people are being convinced that work is a punishment rather than a blessing!

My journey of understanding the value of hard work started young. By age 12, my “free time” was occupied with three jobs: mowing lawns, delivering newspapers and bagging groceries. Today, this would be considered child abuse of me and my two older brothers. By age 17, I managed a local mom-and-pop convenience store during the summer, after school and on weekends. My upbringing was more than just labor; it was a foundation for character-building that has aided me all my life. By 21, I was promoted to Assistant Chief of Administration on a Wing level command with 2,000 people in the command.

As much as the Bible and life teach us the essence of work, they also stress the sanctity of rest. Just as God crafted the world in six days and rested on the seventh, humans are wired for a rhythm of work and rest. This pattern isn’t a mere luxury, but a necessity, a divinely ordained time to rejuvenate the soul, ponder upon our deeds and foster a deeper connection with the Almighty—essentially, the essence of Sunday worship.

This Labor Day, let’s find the balance between the sacred nature of work and that of rest. The Bible cautions against laziness with terms like “sluggard” and “slothful.” As Proverbs states, “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.” (Proverbs 13:4) If every generation could internalize this wisdom and be taught the work ethic of previous generations, imagine the progress, harmony and shared prosperity we could achieve in this, the most blessed nation on earth.

Indeed, we work hard not just because it is expected, but because it’s a testament to character, faith and our bond with the Almighty. As we enjoy our barbecues, parades and family gatherings this Labor Day, take a moment to honor the spiritual essence of work and rest. And be sure to thank God if you learned these vital lessons while praying for those who have been duped into believing that work is a curse.

Dr. Doug Stauffer is pastor of Faith Independent Baptist Church. He was saved July 6, 1980, in Niceville, while stationed at the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base and has now been in the ministry for over 35 years. He has written 20 books including the best selling “One Book” trilogy (“One Book Rightly Divided, One Book Stands Alone, One Book One Authority”); along with several devotionals (“Daily Strength” series); and prophecy books (“Reviving the Blessed Hope, When the End Begins”).