The book of Genesis leaves us with a striking truth—work was part of paradise. One biblical scholar summed it up: “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.”(1)
It was part of God’s perfect design for human life, because we were made in God’s image, and part of his glory and happiness is that he works, as does the Son of God, who said, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working” (John 5:17).
The fact that God put work in paradise is startling to us because we so often think of work as a necessary evil or even punishment. Yet we do not see work brought into our human story after the fall of Adam, as part of the resulting brokenness and curse; it is part of the blessedness of the garden of God. Work is as much a basic human need as food, beauty, rest, friendship, prayer, and sexuality; it is not simply medicine but food for our soul. Without meaningful work we sense significant inner loss and emptiness. People who are cut off from work because of physical or other reasons quickly discover how much they need work to thrive emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Excerpt from Every Good Endeavor by Timothy Keller. Reprinted by arrangement with Penguin Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2012 by Timothy Keller
When, if ever, has work felt like something you were designed for?
Jesus, I ask for wisdom and revelation as I study what your word says about work. Refresh my experience of work as your truth takes hold of me.
Read more about the call to work in Genesis in the Theology of Work Bible Commentary: The Work of the Creation Mandate (Genesis 1:28, 2:15)
(1) Ben Witherington, Work: A Kingdom Perspective on Labor (Eerdmans, 2011), 2.