We pray you have been blessed by this daily devotion. If you received it from a friend, you can see other devotions and studies by visiting our website at www.awordfortoday.org.
A WORD FOR TODAY, September 4, 2023
“Blessed is everyone who fears Yahweh, who walks in his ways. For you will eat the labor of your hands. You will be happy, and it will be well with you. Your wife will be as a fruitful vine in the innermost parts of your house, your children like olive shoots around your table. Behold, this is how the man who fears Yahweh is blessed. May Yahweh bless you out of Zion, and may you see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Yes, may you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel.” Psalm 128, WEB
Today is Labor Day, an American holiday honoring hard work. We don’t have plans for today. We thought about taking a day trip somewhere, but we are being lazy instead. It is still hot in Texas, and the thought of hiking through a park, or even wandering through some historic site just didn’t sound like much fun. So, on this Labor Day, we are refusing to do any labor. I’m not even excited about cooking any food. Funny that we would have a day about laboring, on which we are doing whatever we can to avoid labor!
We use the word labor for the act of physical work, but it is also an economic term that means to do some sort of service for an economic return. We spend too many hours each week earning a paycheck so that we can live in this world. It takes money to pay the rent, buy food and clothes, and do all the things we want to do. We would not have been able to take that day trip if we didn’t have the money to put gas in the car, pay entrance fees, or buy lunch.
The first U.S. Labor Day celebration was held in New York City on September 5th, 1882, by the Central Labor Union. It was designed to be a day to show the public the “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations.” The day began with a parade and was followed by a festival of fun and celebration for the workers and their families. The new tradition continued for a second year on September 5th, 1883. It was moved to the first Monday of September by the third year, when the Central Labor Union began encouraging other organizations to join in the celebration. Politicians eventually became involved; they used the day as an opportunity to promote their causes among those who labor in the workforce. The day was made a national holiday in 1894 and according to the Department of Labor is meant to be “An annual celebration of the social and economic achievements of American workers.”
We need laborers; people who work are vital to society and to our daily lives. The best things in life come from those who work hard to create, produce, and provide everything we need, and through them we benefit from the economic and technological progress that we’ve made. We have not always understood the need to respect laborers, however. Those celebrations begun so long ago were part of a movement to make circumstances better for the hard-working men and women who serve us daily in so many ways.
Someone recently asked young adults what Labor Day is about. The answer is disappointing. One young man answered, “I actually don’t know why we celebrate Labor Day.” Another said, “I have no clue. I was wondering this the other day. Honestly, I think it’s just a day off work. I have no more info than that.” A young woman asked, “Something to do with America?” The day has become little more than the unofficial end of summer, the transition from the laid-back days of freedom and vacations to the hustle and bustle of school and work. Labor Day is about having fun and relaxing, resting before getting back into the normal grind, not about honoring the importance of work and workers in our world.
Those original Labor Day celebrations were focused on certain people who were part of the union and were even designed to convince others to join the union. We can argue today about whether those organizations still care about the workers or if they have an agenda, but the day is still meant for workers. Whatever it was, and whatever it is, we are reminded on this Labor Day by the words of the psalmist that God cares for the laborer who loves God and He provides for them. While organizations have provided for the welfare of workers, they are made up of human beings who can lose sight of what really matters. However, we can rest in the trustworthiness of the God who blesses those who fear Him and walk in His ways. He makes our labor worthwhile; He ensures the fruit of our labors will be a blessing. He provides a place for rest, not only one day a year but every day of our lives.
A WORD FOR TODAY is posted five days a week – Monday through Friday. The devotional on Wednesday takes a look at the scripture from the Revised Common Lectionary for the upcoming Sunday. A WORD FOR TODAY is posted on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Word-for-Today-Devotional/339428839418276. Like the page to receive the devotion through Facebook. For information and to access our archives, visit http://www.awordfortoday.org