In the late 19th century, labor strikes, poor wages and unsafe working conditions were the headlines in the newspapers. On September 5, 1882, about 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march to Union Square in New York City. It was the first Labor Day parade, though it wasn’t officially called that yet. The idea of a “workingman’s holiday” was appealing. And over the span of several decades of deadly protest and even more death due to terrible working conditions, Labor Day was made official on June 28, 1894, by President Grover Cleveland. The first Monday in September was now a national holiday to be celebrated in remembrance of hard working people.
Over a century later, we still labor. People still protest wages. And almost half of middle class America isn’t satisfied with that labor. In Isaiah 61:10-62:7, we see Jesus’ motivation for His labors. It’s a small yet significant phrase: for Zion’s sake. (Zion and Jerusalem were regularly used to represent God’s people.) Jesus sought to glorify God by His Kingdom efforts. God establishing God’s Kingdom for God’s glory as a display of God’s character to God’s people is the theme of history. And we get to join in on this.
‘My Delight is in Her’
In Christ, we are no longer named Forsaken, but now we are called My Delight is in Her. What a powerful weapon against temptation! And it’s also our motivation to work and labor well for His glory.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23–24).
This passage was written to those who were still bondservants of masters. But as bondservants in Christ, the application takes on a fullness for us as well. We are serving the Lord Jesus Christ! So in whatever you do this coming week, do it in the service of Christ.
The temptation can be to look at Mondays (or the Tuesday following Labor Day) as the dreary day when work starts again and life is just a little bit “less than.” But we are called to so much more. And our motivation is so much greater. When we live our daily lives for the sake of Christ’s Kingdom and we are motivated by the joys of being invited to join in on God’s timeless work of redemption and displayed glory, what can damper that?! Only sin and sinful attitudes. Resist that. Seek the glory of God for Zion’s sake in the power of the Spirit. Because as we walk the way of this life, we walk next to Jesus. Labor well, brothers and sisters.