Labor Day Weekend Sermon

Here’s a sermon for the Sunday before Labor Day. It includes a true story that illustrates the reasons we should always do our jobs to the best of our abilities.

Labor Day Weekend Sermon

1 Thessalonians 4:11 and 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12
And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you. 1 Thessalonians 4:11 (KJV)

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 (KJV)

This is the Labor Day Weekend.
Labor Day is a strange holiday.
While we call it “Labor Day,”
we try to do as little labor as possible
and most working people have the day off.
Nobody has wished me a “Happy Labor Day”.
We didn’t get any Labor Day cards.
We don’t decorate the house, or give Labor Day gifts.
The florists and greeting card manufacturers
haven’t found a way to capitalize on it.
It’s a bad weekend for a Church because everyone wants to travel.
Labor Day is different things to different people.
To the factory or office worker, it may be a day off.
For policemen, who deal with extra traffic and alcohol abuse,
it’s a tough day.
To farmers and ranchers,
it’s just another day to feed the cattle and work in the fields.
For preachers, it is an opportunity to talk about work.
Work is a very important part of God’s will for people.
I have another true story for you today!
The U.S.S. Astoria was the first U.S. cruiser ship to engage the Japanese during the Battle of Savo Island in World War II. It was a night action fought August 8th and 9th in 1942. Although the Astoria scored two hits on the Imperial flagship Chokai, she was badly damaged and sank shortly after noon on August 9th. About 2:00 that morning, a young Midwesterner, Signalman 3rd Class Elgin Staples, was swept overboard by the blast when the Astoria’s number one eight-inch gun turret exploded. Wounded in both legs by shrapnel and in semi-shock, Staples was kept afloat by a narrow life belt that he managed to activate with a simple trigger mechanism.
More of that true story a little later!
Point #1
God has always honored and provided work.
Genesis 2:2
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.
God is a worker Himself and appreciates rest.
He created us in His image and gave us work to do.
Genesis 2:15
Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.
Even from the beginning, God gave men work to do.
When Jesus came to earth, God honored work:
1. His birth was first told to working shepherds
Luke 2:8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
2. Jesus learned a trade as a carpenter.
Mark 6:3 Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?”
Jesus was known as a carpenter!
He worked with His hands in Joseph’s carpenter shop.
3. Jesus chose working men as His disciples.
Peter, Andrew, James & John were fishermen.
Matthew who was a tax collector.
The Bible doesn’t tell us what Philip, Batholomew, Thomas,
Thaddeus, James, Thomas, and Judas did for a living.
I think it’s safe to say that they had jobs.
Jesus called them from their labors to become “fishers of men”.
Jesus told His disciples in Luke 10:7
And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house.
What was Jesus saying to them?
He didn’t want them going out begging from house to house.
Jesus expected His disciples to earn their keep by preaching, so, yes preaching is a job!
So why do so many people think of work as something bad?
Because sin caused work to be unpleasant.
Genesis 3:17-19 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ’You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground,
Adam enjoyed tending the Garden of Eden
until sin changed things.
We think work is a necessary evil.
If we don’t have to work, we choose not to do it!
Some people do as little as possible.
The idea seems to be to get more money for doing less work!
This leads to the idea of someone else doing the work for you.
Some people choose to be employers.
They hire other people as employees to do the work.
In America, “labor” and “management” are adversaries.
Labor wants the most money for the least work.
Management wants the most work for the least money.
This creates an adversarial relationship.
How many of you had chores to do when you were a kid?
Have you noticed that kids today won’t do chores?
They expect Mom and Dad to give them money!
We are raising a generation that doesn’t want to work.
They expect things to be given to them for doing nothing!
At around 6:00 that same morning, Signalman 3rd Class Elgin Staples was rescued by a passing destroyer and returned to the Astoria, whose captain was attempting to save the cruiser by beaching her. The effort failed, and Staples, still wearing the same life belt, found himself back in the water.
More of that story later!
Point #2. The American work system is not the Christian way.
Ephesians 6:5-9 Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; 6 not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. 9 And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.
Do those verses describe most work places?
Slavery has been abolished,
but many workers think they are treated like slaves!
Many employers have attitudes like a master.
They treat their employees like slaves.
God cares about how we conduct our business
and how we treat others.
We will all face judgment, both employers and employees.
The Christian cannot separate his business from his spiritual life.
He has no right to act like the heathen Monday through Friday.
The Christian does not live for self alone.
Money is an opportunity to help others.
Ephes. 4:28 says:
Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.
If we all did like some of the Christians in Thessalonica…
And refused to earn any money…
Then we could not give to the church.
The church could not pay its bills.
The church could not help needy people!
Close to 12 Noon, Navy seaman Staples was picked up again, this time by the U.S.S. President Jackson. He was one of 500 survivors of the battle who were evacuated to Noumea. Safely on board the ship, for the first time, Staples closely examined the life belt that had served him so well. It had been manufactured by Firestone Tire and Rubber Company of Akron, Ohio, and it bore a registration number.
We’ll get to the climax of that story in just a moment!
Point #3
The Christian does the best we can for others
Colossians 3:22-24 Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
Christian employees should do more than expected
because they work for the Lord.
Christian employers do the best, not the least they can
for their employees
because they also have a master.
Here’s a question for you:
Suppose a Christian has a $150 job to be done
and two men are willing to do it.
One man will do the job for $150 and one for $100.
Which person should the Christian hire?
Well, the Christian employer is free to hire either man.
However, he should still pay $150.
That’s what the job is worth,
so that’s what the man is worth.
Jesus says in Matthew 7:12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them…
If an employee can get by with shoddy work
he has no right to do so.
He works for the Lord.
Christians know people are more important than property.
The Bible tells us repeatedly to love one another.
People are so important; it is vital we treat them right.
Listen again to Colossians 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
So there are rewards for doing a good job!
Given home leave, Navy seaman Staples told his story and asked his mother, who worked for Firestone, about the purpose of the number on the belt. She replied that the company insisted on personal responsibility for the war effort, and that the number was unique and assigned to only one inspector. Staples remembered everything about the lifebelt, and quoted the number. It was his mother’s personal code and affixed to every item she was responsible for approving. Do you suppose Mrs. Staples was glad that she had performed well on the job?
Labor Day Weekend Sermon
It pays both in this life and the life to come to do our very best!
How we carry our Christian principles into our work is important.
Our work performance becomes a Christian ministry.
This gives work new meaning and dignity.
We can’t claim to be Christians
if our Christianity is only a one-day a week affair.
God does care what you do Monday through Friday
whether you are an employee or employer.
There is great encouragement in knowing this.
This is the Labor Day Weekend!
Let’s be thankful for the health to do our work!
Let’s be thankful for our jobs!
Let’s do our work to the best of our abilities!

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