A Celebration of Our Labor Union
Man celebrates the work of man. There may even be a participation trophy for the not-so-productive. Sinful men preach themselves, boasting of their accomplishments, in pride. Inspired by Satan to praise the work of their own hands (Jer 1:16), their co-venture is designed to steal glory from God, who is the architect and builder of all things (Heb 3:4; 11:10).
The work of man is judged by God to be filthy rags (Is 64:6); and as our God is a consuming fire (Heb 12:29), even the wood, hay, and stubble of Christians will be burned (1 Cor 3:11–13), for after we have done our duty, we are still deemed unprofitable slaves (Lk 17:10). The poor evaluation of men, and man’s work, should remove all confidence in the flesh of men for right standing before God (Phil 3:3). A simple maxim to remember, “God’s work is always good, but man’s work is ever lacking.”
To garner a judgment like God’s assessment of man should not leave us without hope, however. We are simply entering the labor of another, as beneficiaries (Is 26:12). None of this judgment contradicts the biblical view of Christian labor, either. Christians are made new, and we have been created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph 2:10). As creatures, still, we are not the designers, nor producers of our good works, for we are clay pots in the hands of the Potter at work (Jer 18; Rom 9:21), being vessels of mercy, prepared for glory (Rom 9:23).
It is Christ in us (Gal 2:20; Col 1:27), willing and working His good pleasure (Phil 2:12–13), according to God’s eternal purpose in Christ (Eph 3:11). Because it is Christ at work, our Christian labor is not in vain (Is 65:23). Because He works mightily in us (Col 1:29), and His grace toward us in never in vain, we labor with Him, and yet, Paul attributes it all to grace (1 Cor 15:10). Grace is God at work in and through His chosen people. He is building His church (Mt 16:18), a spiritual temple in the Lord (1 Cor 3:16; Eph 2:21–22), made up of living stones (1 Pet 2:5).
Christ’s labor is one of love for His sheep, God’s elect (Jn 10; 1 Jn 4:19). He calls us, feeds us, protects us, and sends us to the pasture of His choice. A healthy sheep is a product of a wise and loving Shepherd, who works to give His flock a hope and a future. We trust in Him, and in His works, alone.
Faith is not a work of man to gain any position or favor with God. Faith is a gift of God (Phil 1:29; Eph 2:8–9), and evidence of His work in the Christian heart. Jesus is the author and perfecter of the Christian’s faith (Heb 12:2). He allocates faith according to the measure of His choosing (Rom 12:3).
The Jews were earnest when they approached Jesus, in John 6:28, “What should we do to do the works of God? Jesus answered, “This is the work of God that you believe on Him whom He has sent (Jn 6:29).” Good works, by Spirit-filled Christians, are the product of faith in Christ, which is itself a work of God’s grace (Eph 2:8–9). Faith without works is dead (Jas 2:20), and faith without grace is not authentic. With repeated emphasis, Christ is the author and perfecter of each Christian’s faith (Heb 12:2). It is His work.
Not only does God work all things in all people (1 Cor 12:6), but He causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him, and who are called according to His purposes (Rom 8:28). If there is any work, at all, that should be celebrated, it should be the work of the Father, in electing a people for Himself, in salvation (Eph 1:4–5). We should also celebrate the perfect work of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to save His people from their sins (Mt 1:21). With so much to celebrate already, let us not forget the work of the Holy Spirit, in His ongoing work of sanctification (Rom 8:29; 15:16; 1 Cor 6:11; 1 Thess 5:23; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2). Our gratitude, in great celebration, is to our divine Labor Union: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Hallelujah! O, that I may tell of all Your works (Ps 73:28)!