Is Heaven a release from labor?

I am always fascinated by how our viewpoints about things are affected by the culture we live in. Today is Labor Day in the U.S., where many will celebrate– well, not laboring.

It always seems a little perverse to me. We’re encouraged to celbrate laborers, but at the same time regard them as oppressed, downtrodden. Labor is seen as a necessary evil, and so we celebrate those who endure it.

That’s just another way that our contemporary world is out of tune, not only with the eternal, but with all the wise men of the ages. We think that labor is a necessary evil, and that relaxation, usually exemplified by stretching out on a sunny beach, is pure blessing.

Ralph Waldo Emerson thought differently. He saw doing nothing, “idleness,” as unhappiness. And so have wise men throughout the ages. Frankly, if Heaven is a life without labor of any kind, I think eternity could get pretty boring.

In my favorite book on Education, Ellen White made the following statement.

At the creation, labor was appointed as a blessing. It meant development, power, happiness. The changed condition of the earth through the curse of sin has brought a change in the conditions of labor; yet though now attended with anxiety, weariness, and pain, it is still a source of happiness and development. And it is a safeguard against temptation. Its discipline places a check on self-indulgence, and promotes industry, purity, and firmness. Thus it becomes a part of God’s great plan for our recovery from the Fall.

Notice that before the fall, at creation, labor was–what’s this?– a blessing! You mean, in a perfect world, their will be work to do?

I surely hope so. Years ago, I kept bees as a hobby. When the nectar is flowing and bees are busy collecting it and making honey, you can go into their hive, and they pretty much ignore you. Because they’re happy when they’re doing what they were made to do. On dry days, when the breeze is hot and there’s no nectar flowing, bees have nothing to do but hang around the hive, and they can be really cranky. Watch out!

We’re like that to. We weren’t made for idleness. Labor means development, power, happiness! So, it’s fine to relax and recharge for a time. But for real joy, we’ll want to get back to work.


Is Heaven a release from labor? — 3 Comments

  1. Now you’re talking! The thought of having to sit still and rest for eternity –on a beach, or elsewhere–makes me cringe. I don’t know exactly what we’ll be doing in Heaven, but I would like to believe that the activities that bring us healthy joy on earth will only increase in Heaven.

    I think that the image of simply sitting around playing harps forever is something that makes people not desire to go to Heaven. My husband loves to cook. The idea that he will one day experiment with food unheard of here has much more appeal than “just” petting lambs. I love to garden. I am hoping that there is dirt in Heaven, and that I’ll be surrounded by the products of my own labor.

    Labor feels good. Accomplishing something difficult is wonderful. And being given something to labor over is a blessing.

  2. Your husband loves to cook? Then we’re a match. I love to eat!

    Seriously, I think you’ve got it just right. Everything that is wholesome and truly delightful and good will be there in Heaven. And that has to include meaningful activity–i.e., work.

    (Full disclosure: Pamela is a former student of mine– and she still talks to me!)

    • I think the truth of what you are saying is illustrated in the lives of so many retirees, who hope and dream for years of being done with work–only to get bored and aimless when they don’t have anything to get up to in the morning. Doesn’t God intend labor to be inspiring? Jesus said: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

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