Genesis 2:15

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

Labor, our culture often tries to tell us, is always pure drudgery. During the work week, we are supposed to count down the days until we have time off again. We have all been tempted when Friday comes to be excited to get as far away from our jobs as possible. Often, a period of retirement in which you stop working altogether and live on a perpetual vacation is portrayed as the highest ideal.

Of course, we do not want to suggest that proper periods of rest are bad or that it is improper to retire from a particular line of work at a particular age in order to do something else. However, we must not accept the nonbiblical ideas that work is inherently evil and that we should do whatever we can to get away from it. Labor is actually a good thing, a gift from the Lord that helps give us purpose and enables us to do good to others.

We know that lawful work is good because God commanded us to labor before the fall (Gen. 3). He tasked Adam with tending the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:15). Imagine how wonderful that must have been. No thorns and thistles to deal with. No crop failures or difficulty in getting the fruit to grow. Before we fell and the Lord cursed the ground, work was pure joy. In fact, we will work into eternity, and then our work will be pure joy once again. Our work then will be to worship the Lord day and night, enjoying His presence (Rev. 22:1-5).

In the present era, the world suffers the curse brought on by the fall, and that means that our work at times is extraordinarily difficult and fraught with hardship (Gen. 3:17-19). But the Lord did not create things that way, so we need not think that God's purpose is to give us a day job that we hate. He created us to find joy and fulfillment in our labor, and though the effects of the fall are felt in every vocation, we can and should be able to rejoice in our work, at least for the most part. That is why we should seek a vocation that fits our interests and talents, and when we find it, we should not worry if we are where the Lord truly wants us to be as long as the work does not require us to do something that is contrary to God's Word.

At times, we will have duties that we would not have chosen if it were up to us. Moreover, if our family depends on us for support, we cannot quit a job that we hate if we have no other option for earning a living (1 Tim. 4:8). Still, let us remember that our kind Lord knows that we work best when we enjoy what we do, so we should seek out a vocation we enjoy.

Coram Deo

Even if we find ourselves in jobs that would not be our first choice, we can find joy in our work as we seek to serve God in them. In all that we do, we are not serving merely ourselves or our employers; rather, we are also serving the Lord. In fact, we are serving Him first and foremost. No matter what we do, we should do it as unto God, for we will receive from Him a great reward (Col. 3:22-25).

For Further Study