Christians can make the mistake of believing that “work” is a part of the curse. In other words, some folks read the judgment of Genesis 3 and mistakenly believe that God “cursed” humanity to work for a living. This is simply not the case. God commissioned Adam to work in the Garden of Eden prior to the Fall of Mankind in Genesis 3. Work has intrinsic value and God has called humanity to work! In the 10 Commandments, God expressed the truth that human beings are supposed to labor each day except the Sabbath. In Isaiah 65, we read that work does not disappear in the life to come. The new earth will be a place where work has been restored to its rightful place and it is fitting for God’s new creation.
“Scripture tells us that the most bedrock answer to the question of why we work is that we were created with work in mind. Being made in God’s image, we have been designed to work, to be fellow workers with God. To be an image-bearer is to be a worker. In our work, we are to show off God’s excellence, creativity, and glory to the world. We work because we bear the image of One who works . . . First and foremost, work is not about economic exchange, financial remuneration, or a pathway to the American Dream, but about God-honoring human creativity and contribution. Our work, whatever it is, whether we are paid for it, is our specific human contribution to the common good . . . Already in Genesis we see that vocation is not something we ultimately choose for ourselves; it is something to which God calls us.”
-Tom Nelson, Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work, (Crossway, 2011), pp. 21-24
Exodus 20; Genesis 2; Isaiah 65:17-25
Many people have misunderstood the origin of work. Some folks have articulated the view that “work” is a result of the curse revealed in Genesis 3. This is simply not true! Prior to the Fall of humanity in the fateful third chapter of the opening book of the Bible, God mulls over the fact that no one is available to “work the ground” (Genesis 2:5). Soon after He creates man, God places Him in the Garden and commissions Him to “work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). After the introduction of sin into the world, God did indicate that labor would be increased – but the very enterprise of work itself predates this judgment. Human beings have been created by God to bear His image. This involves a calling to work.
WEEKLY READINGS OVERVIEW
In Genesis 2:15, we read that God placed man in the Garden to work. God created humanity in His image with the ability to reflect His glory. We can accomplish this as we engage in meaningful work. God has demonstrated that work matters to Him. We can glorify Him through our work! Genesis 3-4 recounts the terrible story of sin and its effect on God’s creation. However, these pages also offer us clues about the nature of work. Notice the various references to vocations. And – the 10 Commandments include an admonition to rest one day after working for six days. A glimpse of the future of work is offered in the prophecy of Isaiah where we read that work will be a part of the new earth. Take some time to contemplate your own understanding of your calling to work.
ISSUES/QUESTIONS TO ADDRESS
1. Our attitudes about our work can be very negative. What is your attitude and perspective about your job?
2. We have been created in the “image of God.” Based on what we learned last week about God with regard to work – how does this affect your view of your own work?
3. What is the difference between your vocation and your job?
4. How can you bear God’s image in and through your vocation?
5. Human beings may participate in some form of meaningful work even in eternity!