Work and Worth

Careers In Genesis chapter 1, we read the account of God creating the universe in six days. From this account we are exposed to God’s work of creating and filling the universe. This is the first time we see the activity of work in the Scripture. On the sixth day we read,

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth'” ().

Man was created as an image bearer of God and one aspect of God’s image that man reflects is his ability to be creative and to work. This is seen in , “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” This text reveals that it was God’s will for Adam to work.  It is important to note the timing of this mandate for work: Work is not something that came after the curse (); rather it is something that God required of man before sin entered into the world. Because God worked in creating this world and made man to be a worker, there is a dignity and worth to work.

Of course, since sin entered the world, this has changed the work dynamic. Work now involves at times intense difficulty and hard labour (cf. ). Work was good in its essence and was fulfilling but sin changed its dynamic. Depending on varying occupations there will be levels of intensity and pressure. Work in the garden for example will involve combat with weeds and weariness. Because of this changed dynamic, many react by refusing to work because it is too hard. Sadly, this is not an uncommon attitude. There are those who purposely prolong their education because they enjoy the ease and lack of pressure (this is not the case for all students).

Furthermore, there are those who simply don’t have the desire or drive to work. Many have lost the vision of the dignity of work and instead view it as a means to an end. Even though work can become intensely difficult and emotionally and physically draining; by God’s grace work does not have to viewed as a burden. Yes its dynamic has changed due to the curse, but there is a dignity in work and it is still something the Lord requires of all those who are able. Paul said “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (). Work is not only important but it is also necessary. Recognizing that there is a dignity in work provides an opportunity to display the supremacy of Jesus Christ in all our tasks. The jobs that God gives us are opportunities and callings that He has sovereignly chosen for us.

Therefore there is a dignity in working to the glory of God. It doesn’t matter whether your occupation is menial or prominent. As long as it doesn’t go against the will of God, all work contains dignity and is important in His sight. A dignified job is not defined by how much money you earn, rather it is defined in how it is carried out to the glory of God. The menial and prominent task can and should be done to the glory of God. It is the mandate of God’s people to display the supremacy of Jesus Christ in all their tasks of work (paid and unpaid).

So then, whether you are a banker or baker, barrister or barista, horticulturalist or homemaker, your job can shine forth the glory of God in what you do. Remember, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” ().

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”

16 To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.”

17 And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”

20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

17 And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”

10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.

23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Published by

Andrew Courtis

Andrew Courtis

ANDREW - Serves as Pastor of Hills Bible Church. I am married to Dianne and we have three children (Kate, Emma and Jack). I was born and raised in Melbourne, moved to Adelaide to undertake theological studies (BMin.), and have completed additional studies with the Australian College of Theology (MATh.). I have served in pastoral ministry in both Melbourne and Sydney and am a qualified school teacher. I am committed to expository preaching and making the word of God known and understood.