According to the United States Department of Labor, Labor Day, which falls on the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. From a life perspective, Labor Day for most means, summer vacation is over, students return to school, college and universities to begin a new year of learning, which labels Labor Day as the unofficial end of summer.
In a similar way, believers are called also too celebrate Labor Day but for more than one day a year. The Apostle Paul tells us, "And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves." (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13) Who they were is not mentioned. However, it is evident that the church was not left without appointed persons to equip the saints for the work of ministry. We know that there were elders ordained over the church at Ephesus, and over the churches in Crete (Acts 20:17; Titus 1:5), and that there were bishops and deacons at Philippi (Philemon 1:1), and here, "who are over you in the Lord" would lead us to believe that similar leaders would have been appointed in every newly organized church.
In the King James Version of the Bible the phrase "recognize those who labor among you" is "know them which labor among you." This gives the idea of not only church leaders, but also those who labor as coordinators or head over ministries, those active in ministry, as well as elders, bishops and deacons. The word “know” carries with it the idea that the believers in the local church were not to make themselves strangers toward those who labor in ministry or to be ignorant of their needs. They should also seek to be personally acquainted with them and trust them concerning their own personal life as well as spiritual matters.
"And admonish you" means, to put in mind; and then to warn, entreat, exhort. It is a part of the duty of church leaders to put the people in whom they serve and lead in mind of the truth; to warn them of danger; to exhort them to perform their duty; to admonish them if they go astray. As those who labor perform these duties, believers are to respond by "esteeming them very highly in love." Church leaders who are faithful in their office and function, can expect high regard from the believers they lead and serve, not because they deserve it, per se, but because of their unwavering labors. The Apostle Paul tells Timothy something similar, "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine." (1 Timothy 5:17)
Paul tells, of these laborers, "My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you." (Galatians 4:19) Here is a striking illustration of what church leaders are to do concerning the people they lead and serve. Church leaders are to labor over the people until Christ reigns wholly in their hearts. Church leaders who are truly called into the ministry will labor over the people they lead and serve not as a labor of struggle or because it is their "job," but as a labor of love. Paul tells us, "We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves." (Romans 15:1) The phrase "who are strong" means the strong “in faith” not limited to, but most likely church leaders who should not be novices, but be mature, that is, strong in faith. They ought to bear; to lift up; to bear away; to remove; to bear with; to endure patiently, the weaknesses of the weaker believers. Church leaders should be willing to deny themselves for the sake of promoting the happiness of others.
So, this Labor Day let us be mindful, that as Christians, especially those called into the ministry, we are not to observe a day free of labor, but we are called to labor with one another in love, until Christ is formed in you. Happy Labor Days...