Ann Farabee: Labor of love — or just labor?
So funny. I was in the grocery store and there was a man standing at the back of the store — with maybe 5 items in his buggy. He was talking on the phone. As I walked by, I heard him say in an irritated voice, “I’m IN the checkout line right now, but I will get OUT of line and go back and get IT for you!” (You can hear that tone of voice as you read, can’t you?)
Now, the man was nowhere near the checkout line and he knew I heard him, but all I got when we made eye contact was an irritated look to go along with the irritated voice. I, however, smiled brightly, and came very close to laughing. Oh, the wife (my assumption) was going to receive the item she had called him about, but he WAS going to make sure that she knew that he did NOT want to go ALL THE WAY to the other side of the store to get it. This is not what I would describe as a LABOR OF LOVE. Yes, he was willing to labor, but he was not showing the love.
The reality of my grocery store visit insight was that it brought me to a place where I examined my labor. Is it a labor of love or is it just labor? Does my conversation and demeanor show that I am laboring in love? Or, does my conversation and demeanor show that, yes, I labor for others, but I want to be sure they know how hard it is for me? Good question.
Where can we show our labor of love? Children, spouse, family, friends, the workplace, home, community, organizations, the church… In general, it is anywhere that we spend our time. Labor can be done with a spirit of love and purpose, or it can be done with a spirit of negativity. (Yes, ‘negativity’ is exemplified by the guy in the grocery store.) And, those we labor for can usually discern the spirit that we labor in.
God’s Word gives us great insight about our labor:
• Power of Labor, Ephesians 4:28. Let him labor, work with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. (Yes, our labor helps us help others.)
• Promise of Labor, 1 Thessalonians 1:3. Remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labor of love. Matthew 11:28. Come unto me all that labor and I will give you rest. (Yes, our labor of love will be remembered and God will give us rest.)
• Profit in Labor, Proverbs 14:23. In all labor, there is profit. 2 Thessalonians 3:10. If a man will not work, he shall not eat. (These two verses are pretty clear.)
• Prayer is Labor, Colossians 4:12. Epaphras always labored fervently in prayer for others. (Let’s not forget to labor in prayer.)
I love the story where a little boy was carrying a heavy load of books. When the load became too heavy, he dropped them. His dad reached down, picked the books up, and put them back in his son’s arms. He then picked up his son and carried him. That is the same way God works in our lives as we labor. We may become weak, but that is when He actually makes us strong.
No, the ‘wife’ did not know that her husband was not already in the checkout line when she called, but she did know that he was not happy about having to pick up an additional grocery item for her.
Dear man in the grocery store, here is a better response: “Yes, I’ll get it.” Translation: I love you, and I will show it — as I labor in love for you.
Now that I think about it, do we even need to call it labor? Let’s just call it love.
Ann Farabee has taught in Kannapolis City Schools and Mooresville Schools. She is a Christian writer, teacher and speaker. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org