By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."
Genesis 3:19 (New International Version)
When Adam was created by God, one of his jobs was to tend the Garden of Eden. This must have been more of a pleasure than a duty. After all this was paradise and God put the Garden in place. Adam needed only keep it admirable and enjoy the fruits that he harvested.
However Adam and Eve's sin brought a new dynamic into their lives. They were cast from the garden paradise into a harsh world where they would now have to toil for their food. Labor was part of the curse of man's downfall. To this day someone has to toil in order to produce what we need to live. We all must do whatever job we have been called to do in order to survive.
"If a man will not work, he shall not eat."
2 Thessalonians 3:10 (NIV)
Traditionally, the concept of hard work reaping the benefits of surviving, and even success and prosperity, has been the normal way of thinking. There has always been a ruling class of the wealthy and the powerful who often seem to lead lives of leisure and idleness, but even they are doing the work they were destined to do. Some of us toil and some rule, but we should be most concerned about what we are doing with our own lives and not what others may be doing with theirs. We should be thankful for our jobs, be joyful in the work we do, and do the best we can. We reap what we sow.
All hard work brings a profit,
but mere talk leads only to poverty.
Proverbs 14:23 (NIV)
We seem to be moving toward a time of government dependence and social justice in its most negative sense. As joblessness is on the rise in the United States, this country relies more and more on the hard work of those from and in other nations to produce what we need. Our nation sometimes seems like the fat, rich, powerful ruler who lives a lavish and licentious lifestyle while others serve him. Our leaders talk in glowing terms about a future that begins to look a bit bleak when examined realistically.
May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.
Psalm 90:17 (NIV)
The truth is that most of the world is looking in the wrong place for what it really needs. The answers are not in what our governments or corporations can do for us. Sure, we have earthly work to do, and we should ask for God's blessings upon this work. But we do have a far greater job that has been given to us: God's work.
Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."
John 6:29 (NIV)
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)