How many parents get up in the morning dreading another day of work? How many of you students are sitting there reading a biology chapter or working out an algebra problem, asking yourself, “Why do I have to know this?” Work can be a curse. Adam experienced a major life change when sin entered into the world. He and his wife made some bad choices that brought on God’s wrath…
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,” Genesis 3:18-19
But is Work really a curse?
God is always working. We see Him at work creating the world in six days. On the seventh day He is resting. Did God get tired? I don’t think so – but He does model for us a week’s worth of work, and then goes on to rest. He looks over His work and is pleased. It is good. God seems to enjoy the work He has finished.
In the New Testament we see Christ at work. In fact, He is “Caught” working on the Sabbath – healing a man. When questioned by the religious leaders, he points back to the Father. The Father is at work – the Son is at work. Christ is doing the work of the Father. That is all He can do.
“ But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working… greater works than these will He show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.” John 6:17-21
And then there is man’s work. Is it the curse so many are trying to free themselves of? Have you heard people excited to see Friday, the end of the work week? Are they talking about early retirement or grumbling about getting through another day? Are students doing the same thing, just enduring through until graduation – and hoping the American corporate dream is better than school? I hear these comments all the time.
Did you know that work existed before the fall? In fact, God was working at the very start of creation – and you might argue that He was at work before creation ever started. Then, as man was formed, God planted His garden, and put Adam in it to continue the process. This all happened before the fall.
“So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that he had done in creation…The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Genesis 2:3,15
Work was part of Adam’s original design.
Three Pillars of Success
This month I have been taking the Raising Entrepreneurs Mastery Group through the various steps of starting a successful business. On March 26th, 2014 (4 PM) I will be kicking off the first of 5 detailed sessions – walking through the steps an entrepreneur should take to build a successful business. But before we get there, it’s important to understand Biblical work. When man has the wrong view – work becomes burdensome. In fact, for many of us – it has become an idol. The very thing that we look to for fulfillment and security.
The problem with idols, as we see throughout the book of Judges is, that rather than actually providing fulfillment and security, they make their subjects into slaves. The workaholic is a perfect example. How many marriages have broken up over a spouse pouring their life into work?
Later this month I will be going through practical steps of creating and building a business – with Biblical work principles at the foundation. But in order to do that – we will first have to set the stage for how to view that business, and how to avoid becoming a slave to it. This is the trap most entrepreneurs fall into…it’s common.
Freedom – And Where to Find It!
Work was part of God’s world before we were ever created. As I review Genesis, it seems clear that being created in His image includes being involved in His work. That’s what Christ is saying in the John passage I quoted above. He is going about doing God’s work. But in Genesis, we see that part of God’s work was creating an earth and planting a garden. And then setting up Adam to tend it. That too was God’s work, or His assignment to Adam.
As Tim Keller points out in his book, Every Good Endeavor, man is set free when he is doing what he was designed to do. Like a fish – set free from water, man is not truly free when he is operating outside of his God-given design – this fish is free, but dying. But like the fish in water, when man is free from idols, operating in the world he was placed in – in harmony with God’s design, and carrying out the things God has designed him to carry out, he is indeed free.
It is this perspective that sets all of us free from the drudgery of work, and sets us free to accomplish great things. It was Martin Luther who pointed out that the Church had somehow made full time ministry into something greater than a “regular job”. He argues that, our work, when done as called by God, brings order to this world (dominion) and demonstrates love to those around us. Our jobs, in this context, become part of the fulfillment of the second greatest command – to love our neighbor.
© 2014, David Stelzl