Some of us do a considerable amount of complaining about work. We would much rather spend our time playing! Others find work to be fulfilling and gratifying. These people view work as a source of purpose. For these folks, work is actually enjoyable. So, what does the Bible say about work?
Bringing the Bible to Life for Mom
A Divine Job Description
In Genesis 1:26-28 and then in Genesis 2:15, God gives humans a job. Here we find seven different words used to describe how mankind was to interact with the world:
- para = to be fruitful, to bear fruit
- raba = to become great, to become many, to become numerous
- mala = to fill, to be full, to replenish, to satisfy
- kabas = to subdue, to subject
- rada = to have dominion over, to rule, to dominate
- abad = to work, to serve, to labour, to till
- samar = to keep, to have charge of, to guard, to protect, to watch, to take care of
These words pulled together form a job description for mankind. People were to cultivate the earth, cause it to be fruitful, harness its power, use it to create more and new things, use it to benefit and serve others, and guard/protect it as a resource. In a word, this is stewardship.
Created to Rule the Earth, Not Worship the Earth
It’s important to realize that God placed man in a role of overseer of the earth. Man was not to worship the earth, but to rule over it. This is key in our culture right now. Remember what Romans 1:25 teaches us, we are to worship God, not the things that he has created. By placing man in the role of overseer of the earth, it is clear that God never intended for man to worship the earth. So, when you hear people refer to the earth as though it has some spiritual power, be aware that this is contradictory to what the Bible teaches.
Created to Guard, Not Deplete
Our role to steward the earth means that we have a responsibility to guard the resources of the earth and ensure that they are not entirely depleted. We are charged to use the earth and its resources to serve others and to bring Glory to God. It’s interesting that God set up a Sabbath year of rest for the land in the Old Testament. You can read about this in Leviticus 25: 1-7. Later in Leviticus 25;25, God proclaims that the land is his. Psalm 50:10-12 says something similar. We need to remember that we are stewarding the land that God has entrusted to us. One day, God will completely destroy the earth as we know it and rebuild a new earth (2 Peter 3:10-13 and Revelation 21:1). The earth we know won’t last forever. In the meantime, we have been given the role as overseers of the earth.
Created to Share, Not Hoard
Also included in the Biblical concept of stewardship is the concept of caring for the needs of others. We are to share what we have, not selfishly hoard it for ourselves. This is clearly the intent described in Deuteronomy 15:7-11 and Ephesians 4:28. Deuteronomy 15:11 tells us that the poor will always be among us and that we have a responsibility to share with them. Leviticus 23:22 speaks of leaving grain and fruit in the fields for the poor and needy to harvest. This is the very principal that Boaz practiced in the book of Ruth. Ruth was able to harvest for herself and Naomi because Boaz obeyed God and shared with the poor and needy. Our attitude toward the poor and needy is a reflection of how much we honor God. Proverbs 14:31 sums it up this way, “Anyone who crushes poor people makes fun of their Maker, But anyone who is kind to those in need honors God. (NIRV)”
Created for Work, Not Laziness
Another important lesson we learn from the Genesis passage is that we were designed to work. Work was part of the the original design. Often we think that work was part of the curse, but that is not the case. Clearly work was a part of mankind’s initial design prior to the Fall. Work became harder after the Fall, but work was an important part of mans day from the very beginning. Even though land owners were instructed to leave grain and fruit for the poor to harvest, the poor still had to work to harvest those gleanings. The Bible teaches us that the result of laziness is hunger (Proverbs 19:15 and 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12). Work brings dignity to man and was part of our original design.
Bringing the Bible to Life for Kids
Read Genesis 1:26-28 and Genesis 2:15 with your child. Use the NIrV translation if you have it. Ask the following question:
What job did God give to Adam and Eve?
God gave Adam and Eve the job to rule over the earth. They were to be responsible for the garden and all of creation. They were to bring the earth under control. They were to farm the land and take care of it.
Read Proverbs 27:18 and Psalm 104:14. Talk about a time you planted a seed, watered it, and watched it grow. What was fun about this? Was it hard or easy for you? What happened if you forgot to water the plant?
Next look at Proverbs 12:10 and Proverbs 27:23. Talk about a time you or your parents had an animal or pet to care for. Remember some of the fun you had in caring for the animal. What was the hardest part of caring for an animal? Did you ever forget to give your pet food or water? What happened?
Caring for the earth and all that is in it is a big job! It means we sometimes have to stop what we want to do in order to care for the things that God has placed under our responsibility. But it also means that we can enjoy and benefit from taking care of things. The seed you planted might grow a plant that gives you food to enjoy. Or the pet you care for might also be a great companion for you to play with and enjoy.
Do Your Work for God
In addition to caring for the earth, we also must care for our homes. Read Ecclesiastes 10:18. Your parents might have given you work to do at home. What chores (or work) do you do around your home? Which chores do you like? Name some chores that are harder. Whether we enjoy our work or find it difficult, the Bible tells us that we are to do our work as though we were working for God, not man (Colossians 3:23). It might surprise you, but we can bring glory to God, even in our chores!
Another part of being responsible for what we have is being generous with what God has entrusted to us. We must learn to share what we have, not be selfish with those things. Read Ephesians 4:28. When we do useful things with our hands, then it is very likely that we will have things to share with others who may be in need. Now read Deuteronomy 15:11. Talk about what you learn about the poor. What is our responsibility to the poor? Deuteronomy 15:11 tells us that the poor will always be among us and that we have a responsibility to share with them. Psalm 82:3-4 gives us some further instruction about how to treat those who are less fortunate. God wants us to be generous people. As Proverbs 14:31 tells us, we honor God when we are kind to those in need.
Think about some of the things you have. What are some things that you could share with someone in need? Plan a time as a family to be generous with what you have. And remember to thank God for all that he has entrusted to you and your family.
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