Pastor Jim Jackson, Richmond Hill Presbyterian Church.
Work, A Curse Or A Blessing? The answer is easy if you are looking at only one verse. Genesis 3:19a: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground…” That epic story of creation attributes man’s unpleasant toil as being a curse for his sin.
But how does one deal with that when in numerous places the Bible sees labor as not only a demand, but also a blessing? More than once in the Proverbs, man is commanded to work or face the consequences. “The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall not be slain in the streets” (Proverbs 22:12). So for those who will not work, most any excuse will do. Another Proverb: “As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed: (26:14).
The Apostle Paul once wrote in II Thessalonians: “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (3:10).
Clearly then, the Bible instructs us to work. But does it have to be a curse? I think the choice is ours, at least to some extent. You will remember that when Jesus lingered at the temple; while being left by his parents, he responded: “wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” And I can imagine that as an apprentice to his carpenter father, he wore plenty of sawdust in those dark locks of hair. Cleary Jesus was himself committed to work. He once said: “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh when no man can work.” Did Jesus look upon his work as a curse? I think not, for I believe he saw it more as an opportunity to serve his Father. And that may be the key. It makes a difference when we understand our work as service to God and others. Each of us is born with abilities unique to our identity. I see them as gifts from God. It is a great day in our lives when we are able to match God’s gifts with our daily labors. God’s gifts are too wonderful for us to waste in a life-time of work in which we find no joy, no sense of purpose or fulfillment. Could it be that God finds joy working in our lives? Suppose Paul had that in mind when we wrote: “For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them”?