The Truth about Work

The Genesis account of creation is a treasure trove of profound and thought-provoking theological, philosophical, historical, and scientific facts and ideas, and one of the almost countless aspects of life that it addresses is the reality of work. We may not typically think of it this way, but the pattern of working throughout the week and then taking a break on the weekend was established by God Himself in His act of creation. Be sure to notice how many times work and rest are mentioned in Genesis 2:1-3.

“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

We may think of work as a curse; something that we would not have to do in a perfect world, but are forced to do because the world is fallen. But notice, not only did work exist before the “fall of man,” it was in fact God that was doing the working, and we are made in His image.

Of course, when Adam and Eve brought sin into the picture, it is true that the work which God had designed for them became a sorrowful toil. Thorns and thistles made their daily work frustrating, and the pain of childbirth made the woman’s special role of bearing children, truly, labor.

But the toil, labor, sorrow, and frustration of work as we experience it today does not change the fact that we were made in the image of our Creator, and that He, and we, can take delight in creative processes.

Genesis 1:28 says that “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’”

God was entrusting the cultivation of His creation to man.

Of course, doing manual, “backbreaking labor” is certainly not appropriate for everyone or at every stage of life. The message of Genesis is not that we must use our physical bodies in demanding ways for long hours in order to fulfill our purpose. The message is broader and more profound than that. It is a reminder to us that we are made in the mage of a Creator, and thus we are happy when we create, and that He has given us a task of cultivation, and thus we are happy when we cultivate.

Whether you are creating a meal, a painting, a poem, a handwritten note, a computer program, or a company, take joy in joining God in His creative process and sharing it with others. Whether you are cultivating a field, a relationship, an industrial or commercial organization, a community, or a congregation, take joy in working with others to fill the earth and subdue it. Work comes in forms as broad as life itself.

Genesis also reminds us to rest periodically. In following the Biblical pattern, this means taking time to survey and appreciate what God has done, and to agree that it is good, and to survey and appreciate what He has helped us to do, and to acknowledge that which is good in it as well.

Working and resting forms the rhythm of life, a rhythm established by God and enjoyed by His children.