Work and Rest

Many people may feel that work is a nothing but a curse that was imposed upon man as a punishment after Adam and Eve sinned and ate the forbidden fruit in the garden.

It is true that man’s work became frustrating and difficult as punishment for what Adam had done, but the concept of work, in and of itself, is not the concept of a curse but of something divine. How do we know this? Scripture repeatedly uses the word “work” to refer to God’s act of creation:

“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.” (Genesis 2:1-3)

Work was not the only thing that became more difficult during the fall. Relationships and childbearing were also cursed. Of course, this does not mean that society should refrain from relationships or from childbearing anymore than from work. Rather than seeing these things as curses in and of themselves simply because they are often difficult or frustrating, scripture would have us see them as beautiful opportunities to join with God in creation.

Genesis seems to emphasize the fact that work is divine in the way that it repeats the word “work” multiple times to describe God’s actions, but scripture is equally clear about another important part of life: rest. All throughout scripture, the Sabbath rest is emphasized and reemphasized and is specifically applied to all people.

Many of us who do indeed look at work as a curse have no problem seeing rest as divine. But as with all things, we must of course strive for balance in our lives. The book of Proverbs gives us plenty of warning against resting too much and too often:

“How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? ‘A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest’—Your poverty will come in like a vagabond And your need like an armed man.” (Proverbs 6:9-11)

Some of us want to do nothing but work, and we have to be reminded of our limitations and our need to step back and recuperate and see the bigger picture from time to time. Others of us want to do nothing but rest, and we have to be reminded that while our work here is often cursed with difficulty, it is in reality a sharing in the work of God as He created this world and sent us out with a commission to “fill the earth and subdue it.”

May we all do some work, and get some rest, this week.

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The Serpent’s Deception

When the spotlight was turned on Eve in Genesis 3, and God asked her “What is this you have done?” Eve’s response was “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

While Eve certainly does not get off the hook by simply blaming her actions on the serpent, there is indeed some truth to her statement.  Eve truly was deceived, for surely she would not have sinned if she had only known what the outcome would be.  The serpent had not been honest in his dealings with Eve.  He had emphasized what was desirable about the fruit while leaving out that part about getting kicked out of the garden, into a world of painful childbirth and backbreaking labor.

In John 8:44, Jesus describes that serpent like this:

“He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

  • The simple fact of the matter is that any and every time you and I are tempted to sin, we are at risk of being deceived.
  • He will deceive us by hiding from our hearts the truth about the ripple effects that our sin could have months or years from now on those that we love.
  • He will deceive us by emphasizing to us the short term gratification we can experience while hiding the long term costs.
  • He will deceive us by denying that the behavior in question is even sinful in the first place.
  • He will deceive us by telling us that no one can see what we are doing, as if God Himself could not see, or as if that fact made our actions less somehow less sinful.
  • He will deceive us by telling us that some particular sin is necessary to make us more relatable to the world so that we can witness to worldly people.
  • He will deceive us by not really telling us anything but simply distracting us from the whole internal debate by some distraction such as mealtime or television.
  • He will deceive us by encouraging us to place all of the blame onto someone else who “made us do it.”
  • He will deceive us in many other ways.  As diverse as our situations and personalities are, so diverse are his techniques.

But remember this my friends, temptation places us in danger of deception!  Deception leads us to make decisions that we would not make if we were thinking clearly.  In times of temptation, “trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)”  When our hearts or minds suffer from temporary impairment from temptation, may we rely on God’s unchanging and eternal words of truth.  When the deceptiveness of the temptation passes, we will be glad that we did.

Snake, Serpent