Monday, we celebrate the achievements of the American workforce and its contribution to the economy of the United States. Labor Day is a distinctly American holiday. It started back in the late 1800’s and eventually gained momentum outside its origin in the state of New York. In fact, Oregon was the first state to pass an official declaration that made the recognition legal. Soon other states followed and eventually Labor Day was made an official holiday in the United States – to be celebrated on the first Monday of September each year.
Since before the turn of the 20th century, the nation has steadfastly celebrated the workforce and all that it does for the country. Although the history is sketchy, it seems that it is possible that the carpenter’s union came up with the idea – although there is a legitimate difference of opinion and no way to affirm what the origins of the holiday really are. But we do know one thing – the real origins of Labor Day go all the way back to the Garden of Eden after the fall of man.
If you recall the story, Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree that God had commanded them to stay away from. Eve had been tempted by the serpent and Adam was also guilty of sinning against God. So God cursed the serpent – and commanded that it would crawl on its belly all the days of its life. God then told the woman that her pain would increase in childbirth and, finally, God turned to Adam. He let Adam know that his punishment would be that the ground would be cursed and that man’s work would be difficult. God even let Adam know that he would toil and work until he returned to the dust from which he had been created.
The verse should be familiar to you as one that is used as many funerals. It seems that many people gain comfort from the idea that they will return to the earth as God recounted during the creation of Adam in the book of Genesis. Tonight’s verse recounts the curses and punishment that God laid out for Adam after advising Eve and the serpent of their punishments.
Moses, the author of Genesis, tells us in Genesis 3:17-19, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
My encouragement this evening is that even if it doesn’t seem so, God created work for our benefit – something to increase the value of our contribution to the world and to society. Sometimes we abhor work as much as God anticipated Adam would. Other times, however, we are blessed to enjoy what we do and we shouldn’t take that for granted. My prayer tonight is that you would enjoy your work as much as possible, remembering that God loves us and that He doesn’t make mistakes. He created the original labor day for our benefit – and it should be celebrated! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…