Labor Day

   Written by on August 28, 2014 at 12:16 pm

The annual return of Labor Day is not only a time to celebrate work; it is also a time to check our values of labor, honesty, fair pay and ministry.

Seeing as how our society is festering with work and pay issues, with joblessness, under-employment, with athletes who make mega-millions and school teachers who make $45,000, it is helpful to use this occasion to rethink a value that has built our nation well. And that is the protestant work ethic.

logo-Stephen CrottsA good starting place to begin is the Bible’s Old Testament book of Proverbs. There Scripture teaches the responsibilities of the laborer as well as the employer’s responsibilities to his help.

It’d make a worthwhile self-study to read through Proverbs and see how such themes reoccur in the pithy sayings of the book.

As to the laborer it encourages us not to be deceitful.  ”A troublemaker and a villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth, who winks maliciously with his eye, signals with his feet and motions with his fingers, who plots evil with deceit in his heart—he always stirs up conflict. Therefore disaster will overtake him in an instant; he will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.”  Proverbs 6:12-15.

Or lazy…”Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.  How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.”  Proverbs 6:6-11.

We are rather to be diligent… “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” Proverbs 10:4.

Ah, but Proverbs says of the employer not to take immoral advantage of the laborer. He must pay fairly, promptly, and see that working conditions are humane.

“Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves. A wicked person earns deceptive wages, but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.” Proverbs 11:17, 18.

Proverbs 11: 25.”Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.”

Proverbs 13:23. “The fallow ground of the poor would yield much food, but it is swept away through injustice.”

Proverbs 17:23. “The wicked accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the ways of justice.”

Proverbs 19:17. “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his deed.”

Proverbs 20:17. “Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.”

Proverbs 21:6. “The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.”

Proverbs 28:3. “A man who oppresses the poor is a beating rain that leaves no food.”

Proverbs 28:20. “A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.”

Proverbs 28:22. “A stingy man hastens after wealth, and does not know that poverty will come upon him.”

Proverbs teaches that provisions come from work. And generosity brings a blessing. “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce…”  Proverbs 3:9.

There is no better occasion to begin living these values than now.

About Stephen Crotts

The Reverend Stephen Crotts is pastor of Village Presbyterian Church in Charlotte Court House, VA. He is also the director of the Carolina Study Center, Inc., a campus ministry, located in Chapel Hill, NC. Pastor Crotts may be reached at carolinastudycenter@msn.com.

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