Monday, September 2, 2019

Work is a gift. . .

Work is not a curse placed upon humanity for the rebellion of Eden.  Man was created for work.  Man was created to exercise dominion over all God's creation -- a dominion that was not to be equated with exploitation but with responsible conservatorship and careful use of all that God had given for God's own good purpose.  Work was a gift.  It still is.  Though sin has colored it all, it cannot erase this truth.

We struggle with this today.  We have made work either an enemy or laid upon work the impossible task of making us happy.  Work is not simply drudgery we go through for the paycheck but it is our vocation, one of the places where we serve the Lord and our neighbor.  The work is certainly colored by sin and can be filled with challenge, demand, and pressure but it is still a gift.  Through work we support those whom we love, we use our God given talents and abilities for more than self, and we demonstrate the character of God's own work in creation.

Our modern world has moved us away from more physical labor to intellectual.  The society has pressed us toward education (and I do not want to be seen as suggesting there is something wrong with learning, formal or otherwise).  But there is still plenty of room for physical labor, for the trades, for example.  My dad was a plumber.  He considered it a noble vocation and he was correct.  He worked hard, was an honorable man, used his abilities to serve those in need, and was more than generous with those who employed him.  I wish we had more folks like him.  He believed work was a good thing, a gift from God, and a place where he could serve the Lord faithfully.  I hope we learn to recapture this.  Work is not merely an economic pursuit and it is not primarily our hobby, either.  Work is work.  We need not elevate it beyond what God meant and we must not demean it as somehow not noble enough or lucrative enough for us.

On this Labor Day when we are consumed with our usual holiday routines, we need to remember to give thanks to God for the gift of work, for the gift of a place to work, for skills, abilities, and gifts to use in this work, for the reward that this work provides to support us and our families, for the opportunity to serve our neighbors through work, and, most of all, for the way this work can glorify God.  We should also remember those who struggle to find a job, who are underemployed working many small jobs in pursuit of a full-time job, whose work is valuable but not as valued as it should be (like child care, elder care, to name two), and those who have lost hope of finding any job.  We should remember the many whose labors are difficult and dangerous -- especially those who protect and defend us at home and abroad.  We should remember those whose broken bodies and spirits are all that is left from a life of dedicated and faithful labor and service.  And we should remember to teach these values to our children.  There is nothing demeaning about work, even physical labor.  It is honest and noble.  It is a gift and a privilege.  That ought to be the focus of Labor Day -- even more than the usual holiday routines that seem to dominate our long weekends.

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