The majority of our time is spent at work. The majority of the people we interact with are at work.
Many people may consider work as a necessary evil of life in a fallen world. As a result, they do not treat their natural talents, acquired skills and daily work as important to the kingdom. But is this the right mindset?
What do we learn about work from the Bible? Genesis 1 and 2 reveal what God wants us to know about work.
1. God is a worker. He first created, and then He cultivated (Gen 1:3-31, Gen 2:7-9, 18, 21-22).
2. God finds joy and service in his work (Gen 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31).
3. God created man and woman to work (Gen 2:15).
4. Our first job was to rule over God’s creatures and tend His garden (Gen 2:15).
Because of what God has revealed to us in Genesis, we know that work is good, it is a gift, and it came before the fall when we tainted it. In his sermon The Gospel and Work, Pastor Tyler David says, “Work is not given as a consequence of sin. Work was given as a gift.”
Not only is there skepticism that work is good, but too often, the church elevates the pastor’s job as ‘the real kingdom work,’ while cheapening the value of secular jobs to nothing more than offering plate filling, funding of ‘the real kingdom work’.
But this view of work is unbiblical. Throughout the biblical narrative, work is a means by which God blesses. Speaking on vocation, Tyler David adds
“The first job God gives wasn’t to be a pastor. It was to be a gardener, called to take care of the earth, to tend and cultivate the land. Adam and Eve were shaping the physical world with their hands, so that the rest of the image bearers they [sic] would create together would have places to live… Work was for their joy and the service of others. God gave them a real role to play and real work to do.”
Furthermore, John Piper writes in Don’t Waste Your Life that the role of “secular” work has far greater importance in God’s plan than most Christians realize:
“So if you go all the way back, before the origin of sin, there are no negative connotations about secular work. According to Genesis 2:2, God himself rested from his work of creation, implying that work is a good, God-like thing. And the capstone of that divine work was man, a creature in God’s own image designed to carry on the work of ruling and shaping and designing creation.” (p. 139)
If we apply John Piper’s thoughts on God’s regard for secular work to what we know about Adam’s relationship with work as described in Genesis, we can determine whether Piper’s words are Biblically accurate. Adam’s first assignment was to care for the earth that God had created. In Genesis 1:28 God calls Adam to oversee, subdue and develop the earth to its full potential, and Genesis 2:15 narrows in on that by specifying that Adam was to cultivate and protect the Garden of Eden. The purpose of Adam’s work in the garden was to nourish people - to protect them, provide for them, and help them prosper - for God. God could have done the cultivation and protection without us, but He invited us to work - to participate in His creation. And so we learn that God uses work as a means of protecting, providing and prospering others for generations to come in order to point those generations back to God.
What has God entrusted you with? Where is your garden? How can you use your talents, skills and work to help others flourish?
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I am the Program Manager for For the City Ventures. Professionally, I've worked in management consulting, tech, and e-commerce. I earned an MBA from the University of Texas-Austin, and a double major in History and Political Science from Hillsdale College. I live in Austin with my husband and three kids. On the weekends, you can find us doing home improvements or soaking up all the fun that Austin has to offer.