Monday is Labor Day. Originally, Labor Day was designed to celebrate the American worker. It was the brainchild of Peter J. Maguire, a trade unionist in the late 1800s when laborers had little voice in their own working conditions. Maguire dedicated his life to improving working conditions for hourly workers. He proposed Labor Day in 1882.
Oddly enough, Labor Day was not about labor, per se, but about the rights of the American worker to be free from oppressive conditions of labor. How many freely give themselves to be slaves under the yoke of labor today, and for what reasons? Many work their entire lives morning, noon, and night, missing the best of what life has to offer—family, friends, God—all to “ensure” that they have a few years of pursuing their own agenda before death. Some never make it. Those that do wonder why they didn’t slow down years ago.
The Jews of Jesus’ day also yoked themselves to a similar bondage. They required such strict observation of the Sabbath day there was more fear of violating their traditions than enjoying what God had given. Jesus replied to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). We could say something similar regarding labor: Labor was made for man, and not man for labor. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 2:11 regarding a life given to work and work alone, “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done And on the labor in which I had toiled;And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.” Work cannot satisfy our desire to be someone, only God can. Without Him, labor has no meaning.