Rev. & Mrs. Kenneth Fellenbaum

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Milford, Connecticut, United States

Bible Verse of the Day

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Dignity of Labor

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die’” (Genesis 2:15-17). Of course, like children often do, they went out and did exactly what they were instructed not to!

One of the consequences of the fall by the first couple in the Garden of Eden was that Adam was told, “by the sweat of your brow you will eat your food” (Genesis 3:19). God originally placed man in the Garden “to work it and take care of it.” After their disobedience they had to work a lot harder—“painfully toil” and deal with “thorns and thistles” (Genesis 3:17-18). Growing up on a farm in Pennsylvania, I used to fantasize and wonder what it would have been like to farm and not have to contend with weeds. As a youth I was upset that Adam and Eve “messed things up” but have since concluded I probably would have done the very same thing they were guilty of.

Throughout the rest of Scripture we are given many examples of people performing different types of work: Noah built the ark to survive the flood; Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were herders of flocks as were Moses, David and others; the Children of Israel labored to make bricks for the Pharoah in Eqypt; Joseph and Jesus were carpenters; Peter, Andrew, James and John were fishermen; Paul, Aquila and Priscilla were tentmakers; Luke was a physician; and Lydia was a merchant woman.

The Bible teaches the dignity of labor. Rabbi’s used to teach that if parents did not teach their children a trade they taught them to be a thief.

The Scriptures also set forth the principle that workers are to be compensated fairly for their labor—“the worker deserves his wages” (Luke 10:7, 1 Timothy 5:18). Additionally, “Do not take advantage of a hired man who is poor and needy, whether he is a brother Israelite or an alien living in one of your towns. Pay him his wages each day before sunset, because he is poor and is counting on it. Otherwise he may cry to the LORD against you, and you will be guilty of sin” (Deuteronomy 24:14-15).

As we near the end of summer and celebrate “Labor Day Weekend” let us consider what the Bible says on the subject. And let us pray that the “Great Recession” will begin to subside and folks who want to work will be able to find jobs.

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