“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to till it and keep it” –Genesis 2:15
“The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.” –Proverbs 29:7
God gives humanity our first job. In Genesis 2, humanity is called to care for the garden and then assist with the naming of the animals. Work is expressed as a blessing for through it we collaborate with the creator. Through work we are able to use our God-given skills and strengths. And so, on Labor Day, Christians have multiple reasons to praise God.
Labor Day was celebrated throughout the country, long before President Grover Cleveland made it a national holiday. In the late 19th century, the day was meant to honor the many contributions workers had made to America. Over time Labor Day became a time to cry out for justice. Worsening labor conditions and practices gave rise to movements that brought about reforms such as 2 days off, the 8-hour workday, a minimum wage, child labor laws, and workplace safety standards.
Certainly, we as Christ-followers are called to rejoice anytime the dignity of one is affirmed. We are all made in the image of God and so practices that dehumanize us are dishonoring to God. The scriptures call us to affirm the humanity and rights of the least, the lost, and the last. Solomon observes in Proverbs 29:7 that the righteous care about justice for the poor.
The great reformer, Martin Luther said, “Through the human pursuit of vocations across the array of earthly stations the hungry are fed, the naked are clothed, the sick are healed, and the weak are protected … In the activity of work, God is present as the one who provides us with all that we need.”
While Labor Day is a day off for many, perhaps this year it can be a day on. Perhaps this year each of us can do one thing to make the world a healthier place.