Is work a curse or a blessing?
It’s all Adam and Eve’s fault. If they hadn’t sinned in the Garden, we wouldn’t be in this mess.
I confess, this was my perspective for many years. And I’m not alone. A common perspective on work is that it’s punishment. Punishment laid on humanity because Adam and Eve disobeyed God. People who believe this point to Genesis 3:17-19 as proof:
“To Adam he said, ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree . . . “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” (NIV).
But what if I told you work is holy? So holy that God called the act of creation work? Consider Genesis 2:2 (NIV), “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.”
How could work be a curse if it is something God did? The short answer is that it’s not. God worked for six days, creating a universe with the breath of His word. A holy work with a holy result.
So what about Adam’s curse? After Adam and Eve’s sin, God cursed the ground Adam would till and plant and cultivate. But this curse did not create work. Adam had already been assigned work in his perfect world before sin entered (Genesis 2:15). Rather, the work, once a pleasure, would be painful labor with frustrating consequences.
Where does that leave us today? Work is still holy. And sadly, because of sin, work can still be hard labor with less than satisfying results.
But work is also:
- An act of worship: The apostle Paul tells us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23 NIV).
- A fulfillment of our purpose: God has already prepared good works for you and me to do, long before we ever imagined doing them (Ephesians 2:10).
- A way to show consideration for others: The apostle Paul was a great communicator of the gospel, yet he worked as a tentmaker to support himself. He explained in I Thess. 2:9 (NIV), “we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.”
- An opportunity to witness: When we work with integrity, we are living out what it means to be a child of God. Paul wrote, “work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders” (I Thess. 4:11-12).
As Labor Day approaches—a day of rest from our labors—consider the holy aspects of work. Work, a curse? No, work is a blessing!