Americans have celebrated Labor Day weekend since 1882. From picnics and parades, to fireworks and barbecues, thousands of people every year take time to relax and recreate. While every working person in the nation knows that Labor Day means a day off from work, most may not know the history behind it and why it is a national holiday. And for Christians, celebrating Labor Day should mean much more than honoring the workers of America. It should be a time set aside to assess their priorities, both in the working arena and in their personal lives.
Labor Day was instituted as a national holiday on June 28, 1894, a day set aside to honor the working men, women and children who were the industrial foundation of America. Through the efforts of the Central Labor Union, and other trade unions throughout the states, the labor movement successfully established regulations that governed the working world, such as eight-hour days, two-day weekends, minimum wage and the abolishment of child labor. This movement eventually introduced an annual 'day off' for the working man, a day to pay tribute to those who contributed to the social and economic success of the nation. But the concept of an official day off of work began long before Congress voted it into existence.
For the Christian, a day of rest began at Creation: "And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work." (Genesis 2:2, 3) This day of rest was of such importance to God, that He established it as part of His law: "Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant -- for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed." (Exodus 31:15-17)
God created the heavens and the earth, birds of the air and beasts of the field. Every living thing seen today originally was created by God. But the scriptures teach that God does not sleep nor does He need rest, yet He chose to set aside a day to rest from His work. He did so as an example for all of mankind to follow. This day of rest is meant to be a time of refreshing, of looking over accomplishments and either enjoying the results or seeking ways for improvement. God, upon His day of rest, looked over everything He created said it was good. His work was complete. Unfortunately, this is not the case for workers today. There will always be more work to finish. But the concept of assessment is still valid.
Labor Day, with all of its fun and frolic, can be a time that Christians set aside each year to assess where they are with their goals, their priorities and the like. They can look at their personal life and determine if they are staying on track with their personal walk with God, and their overall organization and time management. They can look at their family life and see if they are keeping their priorities in line with God's will, such as their relationships with their spouses, their children and others. And lastly, they can look at their working life and determine if they are following Godly principles when it comes to how they handle their work responsibilities, their relationships with coworkers and employers, and their choice of occupation.
After looking at each of these areas in their life, the believer can then determine if there are any changes that need to take place. While some changes can be made immediately, others may take time to transition. With Labor Day observed on the first Monday of September, it allows for time to set new directional goals that can be implemented on or after the start of the New Year.
While Christians set aside a weekly day of rest to relax and rejuvenate, they can also determine to take an additional day, as not only a worker but as a responsible believer, to do a life assessment. And just as the secular world sets aside a day every year to honor the accomplishments of the workers of America, so Christians can set aside a day to honor the accomplishments that God has done both through their lives, and in their lives.