Thank You for Your Labor

What about Labor Day? Labor Day 2014 is just over or soon will be when you read this, so instead of asking what you did over the weekend, let me ask about your labor. I looked Labor up in the Bible. Solomon had quite a lot to say about Labor in the book of Ecclesiastes.

The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?
— Ecclesiastes 1:1-3

What kind of a work ethic is that? I thought Solomon was supposed to be the wisest man on earth?

In the next chapter Solomon says that he searched for happiness in his work, 2:10 “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. 11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

Are there any workaholics still reading? Work didn’t work for Solomon either, 2:20 “So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun.”

But I thought we were supposed to be happy, at least contented, with our work!

Solomon sounds pretty frustrated in 5:15 "Naked a man comes from his mother's womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand. 16 This too is a grievous evil: As a man comes, so he departs, and what does he gain, since he toils for the wind? 17 All his days he eats in darkness, with great frustration, affliction and anger. 18 Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him--for this is his lot."

So, Solomon, you’re supposed to be so wise…what’s the key to living a life that’s Happy, Happy, Happy?

"9 Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun--all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom."

Yes, we should have a good work ethic. I think Solomon had a good work ethic. I like the way one person put it… "show up early, stay late, and volunteer for the hard stuff.” I think our company deserves a good day’s work from me. I want to give a good day’s work in return for a good day’s pay. My daddy taught me that by showing me that. Dad didn’t have much education but as his father trained him in a solid work ethic, so my dad trained me in a solid work ethic.

At the same time, since I’ve already mentioned workaholics, let me add that God has something to say about that as well. Exodus 34:21 says 21 "Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.”

If I have my theology correct, God didn’t have to rest because He was tired after creating the world in six days. I think God rested on the seventh day as an example…training, if you will… for us. Our bodies need rest. We need good nutrition, proper exercise, and medical care at times, but we also need rest.

As I’ve toured the plants and offices in recent weeks, I’ve been reminded how important labor is. In order for the people of our country to eat, someone has to labor. Thank You to the thousands who labor with brooms, shovels, computers, pickup trucks and everything else needed to help keep us and our pets eating! I hope that if you didn’t have a chance to relax a day in celebration of Labor Day that you soon will. Thank You for your Labor.