1: The short answer? Yes.

“The book of Genesis leaves us with a striking truth—work was part of paradise,” Timothy Keller writes in Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work.

Yesterday, we looked at how the Bible begins talking about work in the first chapter of Genesis: “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done,” it reads.

In chapter two, we are told that we as human beings were given a job to do: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”

“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,” Tim writes. “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.”

2: Work is built into the human constitution. We were made in the image of God, the Bible tells us. God didn’t rest six days and work one. No, he worked six days and rested on the seventh.

Nor is work and rest balanced evenly. The Bible “directs us to the opposite ratio,” Tim notes. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work” (Exodus 20:9).

“Leisure and pleasure are great goods, but we can take only so much of them,” he observes. “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,” he notes. “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.”

Exhibit one: What happens when we are unable to work?

“If you ask people in nursing homes or hospitals how they are doing, you will often hear that their main regret is that they wish they had something to do, some way to be useful to others. They feel they have too much leisure and not enough work. The loss of work is deeply disturbing because we were designed for it.”

We don’t just need the money we earn from work to survive. We need work itself to thrive as human beings. Because “work is one of the ways we make ourselves useful to others, rather than just living a life for ourselves,” Tim observes.

Work is also essential to figuring out who we are because work often reveals our unique abilities, talents, and gifts.

“Work is not, primarily, a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do,” writes author Dorothy Sayers. “It is, or it should be, the full expression of the worker’s faculties . . . the medium in which [we] offer [ourselves] to God.”

3: Which leads us to a bigger point. “Freedom is not so much the absence of restrictions as finding the right ones, those that fit with the realities of our own nature and those of the world,” Tim writes. “So the commandments of God in the Bible are a means of liberation because, through them, God calls us to be what he built us to be.

“In the same way, human life works properly only when it is conducted in line with the ‘owner’s manual,’ the commandments of God. If [we] disobey the commands, not only do you grieve and dishonor God,” we are also acting against our God-designed nature.

In Isaiah chapter 48, God speaks to disobedient Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea” (Isaiah 48:17–18).

It is the same for work: “In the beginning God created us to work, and now he calls us and directs us unambiguously to live out that part of our design,” Tim writes. “This is not a burdensome command; it is an invitation to freedom.”

More tomorrow.


Reflection: How does my opinion or perspective on work align with that outlined in Genesis?

Action: Discuss with a colleague or friend.

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