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The Dignity of Work
Theme of the week: Our Work Matters to God
Monday, September 5, 2011

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Key Bible Verse: The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to till it and keep it. (Genesis 2:15, NRSV) Dig Deeper: Genesis 2:7-15

Somewhere along the line, Adam got a bad rap, or at least the God of Adam did. Someone somewhere misread the story of Creation and Fall and came to the conclusion that work was a result of the Fall, not part of God's original creation design for human beings. On closer inspection, it is perfectly clear that God's good plan always included human beings working, or, more specifically, living in the constant cycle of work and rest.

Barbara Brown Taylor writes [in An Altar in the World] that many readers of Genesis 1 through 3 "have somehow gotten the idea that physical labor is part of God's curse—labor pains for the woman and field labor for the man—until labor itself gets all mixed up with punishment. Clearly, this is not so. The earthling's first divine job is to till the earth and keep it."

In fact, the earliest full images of human work and purpose are found in [today's Key Bible Verse]. The first profession for humans, it would appear, was gardening. [As Leland Ryken has written in The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery,] "Here human work is shown to have worth and dignity as a service to God and as something that gives purpose to human life."

—Ben Witherington III in Work: A Kingdom Perspective on Labor

My Response: How do I feel about my current career? Why do I feel this way?

Adapted from Work: A Kingdom Perspective on Labor (Eerdmans, 2011) by permission. All rights reserved by the copyright holder and/or the publisher. May not be reproduced.

Prayer for the Week
Father in Heaven, may I strive to do my job with dignity and integrity; help me, most of all, to understand that my 'real work' here on earth is to be salt and light (Matt. 5:13-16) in all that I do.

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