February 03, 2016

The Curse on Work

Genesis 3:14-19

Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.

—  Genesis 3:17

While talking with a farmer recently, I asked how his work was going. He paused briefly and responded, “I’m tired.” He enjoys his work, but after twenty years of cultivating the land, he is growing weary.

God created us in his image and put us to work, cultivating the potential of the earth. Yet this lofty task can drain us. Some of our colleagues may be difficult to get along with. Some employers and employees don’t follow through on what they promise to do. We might repeat the same menial tasks day after day.

Our reading today helps us make sense of why work is afflicted with stress, strain, and adversity. Adam and Eve rejected God’s authority in favor of their own. By pronouncing a curse on them, God named what had taken place through their rebellion: Adam and Eve had separated themselves from God and had driven a wedge between God and all aspects of creation. The thorns of sin would now distort and damage every aspect of work. And until Jesus’ work of redemption is fully realized, our efforts will be frustrated by the effects of sin.

In the coming days, we will meditate on some of the specific ways sin distorts our work. But we’ll do so in hope, for when God pronounced a curse because of sin, he also vowed that someday Someone would come to carry the burden of that curse.

Merciful God, we lament the way sin distorts our work. We confess that we have not always done our work in a way that pleases you. Forgive us, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

About the author — Rob Toornstra

Rob Toornstra has served as pastor of Sunnyslope Christian Reformed Church in Salem, Oregon, since 2006. When not busy with pastoral duties, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Amy, and their three children.

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