"Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope…" (1 Thess. 1:3
INTRO.: A song which encourages us as members of the Lord’s church to continue our work of faith and labor of love is "Labor On." The text was written and the tune was composed both by D. A. Roberson. I have been able to find no further information about Robertson, the date of the song, its origin of publication, or any other background information. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1936 Triumphant Songs, the 1938 Songs We Love, the 1952 Hymns of Praise and Devotion, and the 1959 Gospel Service Hymnal all edited by William W. Slater; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. This song is not to be confused with another song of the same title with words by Christopher Ruby Blackall and music by William Howard Doane that has appeared in some of our books.
The song mentions several concepts that are related to our laboring for the Lord in this life.
I. Stanza 1 says that we have to walk the narrow way
"Labor on each day; walk the narrow way.
It will lead you to glory sublime.
When your work is done and your race is run,
You will meet with the King divine."
A. We can labor all we want, but if we are not walking the narrow way our labor will be in vain: Matt. 7:13-23
B. Only the narrow way will lead to glory sublime: Col. 1:27
C. However, if we do walk the narrow way and labor for Christ, we shall meet with the King divine because when He comes we shall see Him as He is: 1 Jn. 3:1-2
II. Stanza 2 says that we should sing for the Lord
"Labor on and sing for the Lord and King;
He will give you a home by and by.
When your light is dim ever trust in Him,
Till we meet in that home on high."
A. One way that we can labor for Christ is to sing for the Lord because it teaches and admonishes others: Col. 3:16
B. This is a foretaste of what the redeemed will be doing forever in the home by and by: Rev. 15:2-3
C. Singing songs to the Lord will help us when the way is dim to trust Him throughout life: 1 Tim. 4:10
III. Stanza 3 says that we must wait
"Labor on and wait till you reach the gate
Of that heavenly mansion so fair;
Then with that great throng sing a glad new song,
And a bright, shining crown you’ll wear."
A. Laboring for the Lord is not just doing something quick to get it over with, but is something that we must continue to do as we wait for His return: 1 Thess. 1:9-10
B. The hope which motivates our labor is to reach the gate of the heavenly city: Rev. 21:1-2, 12-13
C. Thus, by laboring for Christ, we can be assured of a bright shining crown: 2 Tim. 4:6-8
CONCL.: The chorus encourage us to keep on laboring for the Lord.
"Labor on, (labor on, labor on, labor on)
Ever singing a glad, happy song;
Labor on, (labor on, labor on, labor on),
After while you will meet with your friends round the great white throne."
The song emphasizes the connection between our laboring for Christ here and the reward in heaven. The life of the Christian is not just sitting around, doing nothing but waiting for heaven. There is work to be done here and now. However, the life of the Christian is not solely focused on just the here and now. What motivates our work for the Lord here is that we hope to be with Him in heaven. It is with this understanding that the song tells us to "Labor On."