Another Labor Day is upon us. The pendulum between labor and management has swung back and forth ever since God ordained thorns and thistles in the sweat of Adam’s brow.
From Moses to Malachi, the prophets thunder against unjust employers who hold back the wages of the laboring man. The Bible has a hard word for those who pay their workers a pittance and build their own palaces off the pain of the poor. One can understand why the coal miners in the days of John Lewis felt the need of banding together to stop the widow-making conditions in which they were compelled to scratch out a living.
But we have seen the pendulum swing in the other direction too – powerful unions protecting incompetent and dangerous employees, purposely fostering mediocrity on the job so the other guy doesn’t look bad, using union dues and influence to endorse political views or godless social agendas to which many of their members do not subscribe.
Into the midst of all this the child of God is set down, marching to the beat of a different drum – whether belonging to labor or management.
If you are an employee, the Bible says, don’t just do a good job when the bosses are watching, “when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.” Whether pushing a broom or a pencil, “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).
If you are the boss, then remember that you have a “Boss”, “a Master in heaven,” to whom you must answer. Being the boss gives you no inherent right to make the lives of your workers miserable.
The child of God, whether in labor or management, is not merely working for a paycheck, but in the service of the Lord, to the glory of Him who once labored in the obscurity of a carpenter’s shop. For you and me He stretched out those Carpenter’s hands on a cross to cover our failures and to dignify our humblest task as an act of worship.
The great architect, Sir Christopher Wren, told the story centuries ago, that during the building of the famous St. Paul’s in London, he came across three workers, each one doing the same hard job, pounding rocks with a sledge hammer. He asked the first man what he was doing. With a snarl the man said, “I’m breaking rocks!” He asked the second man what he was doing. He replied, with very little enthusiasm, “I’m making a living.” He asked the third man what he was doing. The fellow looked up with a beaming grin and said: “I am building a cathedral!” Believers in Christ get this.