- February 16, 2014
- By Carolyn Porterfield, Multicultural Consultant for Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas, Dallas
• The Bible Studies for Life lesson for March 2 focuses on Genesis 1:28; 2:8-9, 15-17.
When I graduated from high school, my father gave me two choices—go to college or get a job. Somehow getting a job did not sound like much fun, so I chose college. Work seemed like drudgery and something to be endured or avoided if possible. What I did not understand was the blessing God intended work to be.
Howard Butt Jr. of Laity Lodge broadcasts 60-second radio spots titled “The High Calling of Our Daily Work.” He talks about everyday, ordinary acts of work as a calling from God. Faith and work are woven together. One job is not better than another. All work has purpose in God’s plan. I wish I had heard that message years ago. It would have helped me see work from a much different perspective. This lesson explores the concept of good work.
What work tells us about God
To truly grasp the significance of today’s verses, we must begin with Genesis 1. In the act of creation, we see God at work. Each day, God produced something out of nothing. Order came out of chaos. At the end of each workday, God saw what he had created and proclaimed it good or very good. He delighted in his work. The psalmist reminds us “the Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made” (Psalm 145:17).
In God’s creation, we see a God of purpose, plan and provision. His creation is beautiful and brings enjoyment to us. He provides for our needs by supplying food in the form of meat, vegetables, grains and fruit. We drink water from snow and rain that flows into rivers and fills lakes. The sun lights our days and the moon our nights.
This Creator God is owner of all he has made. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it; the world, and all who live in it.” God is in charge of this world. He shares that authority with us. God invites us to join him in taking care of the earth through the work he has given us to do.
What God tells us about work
God’s last act of creation was man and woman. These creatures were different from any other. They were made in the very image of God. Unlike any other created being, man and woman were given work to do.
God first blessed the couple. How could any of us live without the blessing of God upon our lives? The blessing was a grace gift because it was neither earned nor deserved. A command to be fruitful and multiply followed the blessing. They were to have dominion over fish, birds and every living creature God had made.
Their job description would have included words like “caretaker” and “steward.” God would be at the top of the organizational chart. As caretaker and stewards, they worked under his authority and for his benefit. God gave them any power they exercised.
To have dominion carries with it the connotation of power. It is the kind of power that nurtures, cares for and causes to grow. Have you ever seen an overgrown garden? Weeds choke the life out of tomato plants, beans and okra. Bugs and critters may be eating the plants. Without water, nothing grows or survives for long.
One takes dominion over an unkempt garden when he or she begins to care for it. Weeds are pulled. Plants are watered. Things that would harm the plants are killed or kept away. Power is exercised in the garden so plants can flourish in order to produce food for the gardener.
This is the kind of power God had in mind when giving Adam and Eve dominion. Their work was to protect and care for creation. They were to use their power for the benefit of humankind. They didn’t own the garden themselves but were acting on behalf of Creator God.
Work was a gift from God, not a curse. Work is honorable. Notice that the gift of work came before the fall. Adam still was living in obedience to God. It was only after sin came into this world that the nature of work changed. Adam’s sin brought harm to humankind and the earth.
What we believe about work
How do you view your work? Curse or blessing? It doesn’t matter if you are a farmer, banker, engineer, teacher, athlete, preacher or missionary. All work is God-given. Worship on Sunday enriches work on Monday. When we acknowledge who God is and worship him, we begin to see work as good.
There is deep satisfaction in doing the work God created us to do. There is safety and blessing when we live within God’s plan for our work. Be reminded this week that daily work is indeed a high calling from God.