Reading: Genesis 3:17-19
The Bible represents man in all of Scripture as a worker. His God is a creative God and part of the “imago dei” is creativity and industry. The pre-fall circumstances of the Garden of Eden also demanded this of Adam; he was to “till the ground” (2:5). But in Genesis 3:17–19 there is a declaration of hardship associated with this work; “blood, sweat, and tears” would be the lot of the working man.
Because work in Genesis 3:17–19 is associated with sin, we tend to think of it as contrary to the will of God, to think wisdom is a higher virtue than work, and so we say “work smart, not hard.” Modern society has promoted this philosophy and companies are busy trying to make the workplace “fun” and “enjoyable.” Workplace games and activities are becoming more and more common to help take the distaste out of work. All of this points to the idea that work is an evil to avoid rather than a virtue to adopt; the Protestant work ethic that developed the West is threatening surrender to the self-contented couch potato.
Most men work to live; they find employment because they need to survive. Christ taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” and we thank Him for His provision. The provision of daily sustenance comes by means of hard work. As Rudolph Steir said, “Man lifts his imploring empty hand to heaven and God lays work on it; thus thou hast thy bread.”
But have you ever thought that we should live to work, that we should look on work as a gift and an opportunity? It is by industry and diligence that the Christian finds a fruitful avenue through which he can both glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31) and live a quiet and peaceable life (2 Thessalonians 3:12). Lord, help me to rise in the morning with this holy anticipation.
“The good man considers himself, whatever may be his station in life, as the servant of divine providence, and makes the Word of God the rule and the honour of God the end, of his common employments: he is diligent therein from a sense of duty, as well as from the prospect of gain.” Richard Steele, (The Religious Tradesman, p. 73).