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Happy Season of Mercy!
Isn’t God’s mercy so refreshing and convicting and glorious?!
If you’re not entirely sure, I pray the more you reflect on His mercy this season the more you’ll be convinced.
And if you’re already overwhelmed by the mercy of God, I hope your appreciation of God will deepen more and more this year.
I’m very excited to announce that today marks our one year anniversary! The Year Long Celebration of God discipleship experience has been in the works for many years, and I’m so excited that we have one full year under our belt.
And — while we’re celebrating milestones — Truth.Love.Parent. is celebrating it’s 5th year. That means that — if you’re new to the show — there are so many awesome resources already waiting for you that will help you better know, understand, and love God as you help your fellow disciples do the same.
And — speaking of resources — be sure to click on the link in the description of this episode to access your free episode notes, transcript, and Labor Day resources. We don’t have as many resources available for Labor Day as we do most of the other holidays, but there are enough to get you started worshipping God on Labor Day.
So, let’s get started talking about just that.
Today we’re going to go over five topics:
1. A Short History of Labor Day
2. The Christian’s Relationship with Work
3. Preparing for Labor Day
4. Celebrating Labor Day
5. Discipling during Labor Day
1. A Short History of Labor Day
According to history.com “Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers and is traditionally observed on the first Monday in September. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894. Labor Day weekend also symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans, and is celebrated with parties, street parades and athletic events.“
And then they attempt to answer the question: “Why Do We Celebrate Labor Day?” That’s the very same question you may be asking, so let’s consider part of their answer.
“Labor Day, an annual celebration of workers and their achievements, originated during one of American labor history’s most dismal chapters. In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages. People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks. As manufacturing increasingly supplanted agriculture as the wellspring of American employment, labor unions, which had first appeared in the late 18th century, grew more prominent and vocal. They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay.”
Now, what I’m about to say is very ancillary, but I want to be clear . . . at their core, labor unions have noble intentions. And — in the face of legitimate abuse — they were foundational to American workers being protected from unscrupulous employers. But I cannot in good conscience condone most of what is done today in the name of labor unions.
I say all of this because worshipping God on Labor Day has nothing to do with labor unions . . . regardless of how you feel about them.
Moving on . . . so many of the workers protested and so many others revolted during that time in American history, that history.com finishes its thoughts with this, “In the wake of this massive unrest and in an attempt to repair ties with American workers, Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories. On June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed it into law.”
Now, I believe that the vast majority of my listeners have participated in — and enjoyed — numerous Labor Day celebrations without having the faintest clue about its history.
In fact, I read all of that just to make one very important point. Whether it’s Labor Day or Thanksgiving or Christmas or Halloween, it doesn’t really matter how and why other people celebrate it. Christians have an infinitely higher calling.
That means that followers of Christ — regardless of the intent of Grover Cleveland — absolutely must glorify God and worship Him in all they say and do on the first Monday in September — whether that includes a Labor Day celebration or not.
So, why would a Christian observe Labor Day? And — with that question — let’s transition into a short discussion concerning . . .
2. The Christian’s Relationship with Work
I love that Labor Day usually falls on the first Monday of Creation Week. There will be the occasional year that September begins on Monday. On those years, Creation Week will start the following week, but — like I said — most years Labor Day should be a part of our Creation Week festivities.
And I think that’s really cool because of all the nearly infinite creative endeavors the Lord pursued during the original Creation Week, God also created work.
But — unlike the rest of Creation — God didn’t speak it into existence, He acted it into existence.
God is the eternal First-Worker. He built the cosmos, He formed man, He engineered woman, He is the great and glorious Producer. And then He invited mankind into His work.
Listen closely to what I’m about to say . . . to be in a relationship with God is to participate in the work of God.
But don’t misunderstand. We don’t work to be in a relationship with God; we work because we’re in a relationship with God.
And let me take it a step further . . . work that truly satisfies and work that eternally lasts can only be accomplished by God’s people because God’s work is as perfect as He is.
God and man both worked before the fall. That means that work is just as pure and good as the rest of the creation.
Unfortunately, in the same moment that sin infected the rest of creation, sin also poisoned our work.
In Genesis 3:17-19 God tells Adam that because He sinned, “Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; 19 By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”
Some people like to point at the word “toil” in verse 17 and say, “See, work is a result of sin.” But the Hebrew word translated toil actually means work that involves pain and sorrow. Before sin work didn’t involve pain or sorrow, and — we can assume — that childbirth didn’t either.
God used the same word translated “toil” when referring to the fact that “In pain [Eve would] bring forth children.”
It would be work accompanied by great pain.
God cursed the ground in order to make the beautiful, enjoyable, profitable, satisfying act of work . . . toilsome, burdensome, uncomfortable, and sorrowful.
This is why there are two reasons people don’t like work.
1. People don’t want to do God’s work.
This refers to unbelievers in particular, but it also applies to believers. Every time we sin, we’re choosing our work over God’s work.
And . . .
2. People don’t want to experience pain they don’t find valuable.
Here’s the thing, we all work. You can’t avoid work. The dictionary definitions of work are so broad that we can say that we’re working when we’re asleep.
Everything we do is work, but we only do the work we want to do. And we only want to do the work we believe will give us satisfaction.
And we all know that work involves pain. Sore muscles, the annoyance of repetition, heat, sweat, blisters, brain fog, time consumption, hunger, fatigue . . . all work eventually produces discomfort. But each human is well practiced in the economic method of balancing costs and benefits.
We justify the drudgery of a work week only when we appreciate the benefit of the paycheck. Blistered fingers may not be acceptable when it comes from yard work, but a guitarist so values enhancing his craft that he actually doesn’t mind the blisters.
It’s not that we don’t want to experience pain, it’s that we want to choose the pain we believe is valuable.
But here’s where mankind’s utter foolishness is revealed.
God commands us to obey Him. When we do we will experience spiritual blessings beyond imagining including the satisfaction of being involved in eternally valuable work.
And yet we so often refuse to worship God and instead worship ourselves because we want to be satisfied in a different way. We want the high, we want the thrill, we want the sinful pleasure . . . but what is the outcome. More pain than we ever realized.
Not only does the satisfaction of sin never last or produce anything of value, it actually hurts us. It hurts the people around us. And it hurts our relationship with God . . . if we even have one.
And — when we eventually stand before God — unbelievers will experience an eternity of hellish “toil” — pain and sorrow separated from God, and believers who wasted their lives on wood, hay, and stubble will experience the pain of a displeased Creator.
Mankind is so ridiculously stupid that we substitute the mild pain of a cursed creation for the spiritual pain of sin in order to achieve the painful pleasures of our lust instead of the eternal glories of God’s blessing.
Like a dog to vomit, so we pursue our self-worship.
But it need not be that way.
We can celebrate the merciful gift of eternally satisfying, Christ-honoring work.
And — for that reason — Labor Day is an exquisite day at the beginning of the celebratory year and nestled within Creation Week to praise and adore God for the gift of meaningful work.
Yes, work is toilsome in an earthly sense, but it need not be toilsome from a spiritual sense. And that is definitely worth celebrating.
So . . . with the remainder of our time, let’s talk about good ways to do just that.
3. Preparing to Celebrate God on Labor Day
If you’ve been with us for any amount of time, then you are familiar with this format. This past year we stepped through nearly every holiday (except for Labor Day and the Day of Prayer) to discuss how to prepare for the holiday, celebrate it, and disciple during it.
So, I want to continue that format for today’s episode.
And if you’re new to the show, I encourage you to listen to our introductory content so you know the difference between Preparing, Celebrating, Discipling, and Anticipating. Those are four things we should do every single day, and we’ve been learning to do them better within the context of our holidays.
So, how do we prepare for Labor Day?
First, you can start by heading to CelebrationOfGod.com and clicking on holidays. There you will find the Labor Day resources — one of which is a Labor Day Bible Reading.
As you prepare to give God the preeminence on Labor Day, it will be helpful to remind yourself about what God says about work.
For example, the very first time we encounter the word “work” in the Bible we see that God is resting from it. That doesn’t mean that work is bad, but it does illustrate for us the necessity of rest. The Hebrew word used for work in this passage cannot be compared to our English word for work which — as I mentioned earlier — covers pretty much everything we do.
The Hebrew word refers to work that is an occupation-specific task which produces something necessary.
What’s the application for us?
Are you a workaholic? If so, your relationship with work is unhealthy, and you’re likely not experiencing God’s desired satisfaction and value in your work.
The last time the English word “work” is used in the Bible is in I Peter. There Peter tells us that God is the one who impartially judges every person’s work. The Greek word translated work in this passage is broader than the Hebrew word we just discussed.
This work can refer broadly to our behavior.
Again, as I approach Labor Day — and (honestly) the rest of the year — I’m preparing my heart to think correctly about my life. There is work that pleases the Lord and work that does not, and I can be assured of the fact that God is going to judge my work.
The Bible has so much to say about our work, and it will benefit us if we put the work in to prepare our minds to have a Christ-honoring Labor Day and Christ-honoring approach to our labor every day.
So, check out our Labor Day Bible reading, and be sure to share it with your fellow disciples. We’ll talk more about them in a minute, but just like you can disciple during Labor Day, you can also disciple before Labor Day. In fact, the discipleship on Labor will likely be more profitable if you began before Labor Day.
So, invite your disciplees into the process of preparing their hearts.
You can also prepare to celebrate Labor Day by setting up your Celebration Wall to draw your mind to our great God.
And — of course — there are the logistical preparations that may include a larger celebration . . . like planning a menu, cleaning the house, and putting together activities.
It’s always best to plan and prepare for those beforehand so that you’re not running around like a crazy person flying by the seat of your pants. Busyness is a terrible distraction from worship; therefore, we should strive to reduce the busyness of an ill-prepared celebration so that we can focus on what really matters . . . celebrating God.
Once you’re prepared, you’ll be ready for a much more enjoyable and profitable celebration. So . . .
4. Celebrating God on Labor Day
In America Labor Day is typically celebrated by not laboring. And I think that’s a great idea.
So, instead of laboring at work, we labor at restful activities like feasting and playing and fellowshipping and resting.
But, we must remember that most of us have probably celebrated ourselves on Labor Day more than we have God.
It’s not hard to worship ourselves on a holiday. We eat the food we want and play the games we want and spent time with the people we want . . . simply because we want it. We give no thought to what God would have us eat or what God would have us do or how He would have us do it or with whom He would have us fellowship.
That’s the difference between celebrating self and celebrating God. The motivation is the key. Am I eating this third hamburger because I want to or am I avoiding gluttony because God wants me to?
This is one of the most difficult parts of The Year Long Celebration of God. Most of us are pretty used to doing the right things in the right ways for our own honor and glory. But we need to intentionally do the right things in the right ways for God’s honor and glory . . . and that doesn’t happen accidentally. It must be purposeful.
Therefore, if you did a good job preparing to celebrate God on Labor Day, then you likely planned to do most of the following:
A. You plan to approach each activity, moment, and opportunity with the thought, “How can I best glorify God right now?”
This is a practical approach to I Corinthians 10:31.
B. You plan to talk about God with those you’re evangelizing or discipling.
We talk about the things we love, therefore, it would make sense that — at least once — a conversation will include deliberate celebration of God, His mercy, and His gift of work.
C. You plan to pray to God.
And I hope we do more than simply thank Him for the food. Every good gift comes from above, so plan to be specific in your praise of God. Thank Him for the food and the fun and the weather, but also thank Him for His merciful gift of work that allows us to avoid an empty, meaningless life.
But you should also . . .
D. Plan to encourage God to speak to you through His Word.
We talk to God in prayer, and He talks to us through the Scriptures. So, invite God to your Labor Day celebration by getting Him involved in the conversation.
Take some time to read some of the passages from the Labor Day Bible reading. You can even discuss the ones that are really impactful for you.
Those are just four foundational ways you can intentionally give God the glory on Labor Day, but there are so many more.
And every time you involve someone else in any of the points I just covered, you’re . . .
5. Celebrating God by Discipling on Labor Day
This one is actually pretty easy. It’s an integral part of celebrating God because God expects it of us. If we obey every other command in Scripture, but we don’t participate in discipleship with our fellow believers, we’re sinning against God.
So, any time we involve other people in our worship of God, we’re discipling to one degree or another.
That means you should invite people to prepare for Labor Day, invite them to interact with God and His truth on Labor Day though Bible reading and prayer, and — to one degree or another — find opportunities to take the conversation deeper by applying God’s will to your lives.
Only by worshipping God and encouraging others to do the same can we successfully throw a Labor Day party that genuinely pleases God by giving Him the worship He deserves.
And when you combine this Labor Day celebration with Creation Week, you have so many fun opportunities to better know, understand, and love God.
Please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets so your fellow disciples can join The Celebration of God. When your friends hear this episode, hopefully they’ll be excited about being more intentional about their discipleship and worship.
And join us next time as we continue this discussion about worship and discipleship.
Lord willing we’ll complete our “What is Worship?” series by learning that we cannot fully worship God unless we’re helping others to do the same.
If you haven’t heard the first three parts of that series, there’s a link in the description where you can find them.
Until next week, I pray that you give God the glory He’s due every moment of every day.
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The Year Long Celebration of God is a dynamic, holistic resource that utilizes the Bible, our holiday calendars, and even the most average moments of the most normal days to equip Christians to worship God all year long
and disciple others to do the same.
AMBrewster is the creator and host of the Celebration of God. He originally designed the COG to be a discipleship tool for Christian parents to train their children to know and love God, but he quickly realized how valuable it is for all Christians. Whether it's a small group, church, classroom, one-on-one, or community relationship, this resource is guaranteed to draw people closer together as they draw closer to God.
Aaron is the President of Truth.Love.Parent. and host of its podcast.