Today is Labor Day, and I've got a few thoughts to share, plus a story about my grandfather.
Honest work is honorable work as far as I am concerned. America was founded by men and women who were willing to work hard. Even though today we celebrate the American worker, I wonder if our country is losing sight of the value of an honest day's work.
For our nation to be strong, and continue to raise creative, productive workers, we must value and reward hard work - not penalize it. God honors hard work. Read the book of Proverbs to see wise statements about work. Here are two:
Proverbs 14:23, "All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty."
Proverbs 31: 17, "She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks."
My grandfather exemplified the value of hard work. I'd like to share something I wrote about him a few years ago for a Labor Day devotion for Proverbs 31. I hope you enjoy it, and that it inspires you to embrace whatever work God has placed before you.
He was a quiet man; a hard-working Texan who believed that an honest man could always find an honest job. Living in the Pecos Valley of New Mexico, teetering on the western edge of the great drought, compounded by the Depression, my grandfather, Bert Sinclair, always found work.
By some standards, he worked menial jobs. Bert worked on highway construction, in landscaping, as a butcher and always as a farmer. In addition to those day jobs, there was a personal kitchen garden to maintain to feed his family. The drought gave new meaning to “dry as dirt.”
As backbreaking as the work was, Bert pressed on with a positive attitude. At the end of a hard day’s labor, he relaxed at home, surrounded by his five children who vied to wash Daddy’s dusty feet for a penny. And in the country evening stillness, my grandfather picked up his Bible and read the words that guided his daily steps.
Bert’s life of integrity and simple devotion to love and provide for his family, left a godly legacy of the dignity of work. This Labor Day as we honor those whose work makes America strong, it’s good to pause and remind ourselves of God’s view of work, and the value therein.
There’s a tendency to think of work as a negative consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin. In Genesis chapter three, God told Adam that because of his disobedience, he would toil painfully in order to eat. But that’s not the first reference to work.
In the second chapter of Genesis, after God created Adam and Eve, Scripture records, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15 NIV). Work was Adam’s first responsibility. In fact, it would appear to be the first “call” of God on someone’s life.
In our society, it’s easy to devalue certain types of work as beneath us. But the Bible doesn’t differentiate between jobs. In Scripture, all honest work has inherent value. Paul wrote the book of Colossians to the believers in Colossae, who consisted of men and women from all walks of life, including slaves. It was specifically to those slaves that Paul gave this word: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24, NIV)
Not only were those slaves likely responsible for the lowliest of tasks, but they were doing it against their will and with no hope of relief. In this midst of this undesirable situation, Paul reminds them that their work has value because they are working for Jesus. What an amazing paradigm shift!
In whatever work you do today, seek to find greater meaning in it. Work is not a punishment, but an opportunity to serve God with faithful diligence and grateful heart. Even though you may not stay where you are forever, do your best today with dignity.
I’m proud of the heritage of hard, honest work my grandfather left. His quiet dignity resounds in the hearts of his children, grandchildren and their children. Burt Sinclair won’t be found in the annals of Texas or New Mexico history. But his legacy of commitment to God, his work and family I’m sure must be recorded in the book of life. That’s a legacy of dignity worth passing on to my children.
In His Love,