“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground.” Genesis 3:19
In September Americans pause to observe Labor Day. How does Scripture view work?
God created human beings to work in the Garden of Eden and care for it. Work must have been a joyful blessing. With the fall into sin, work became more of a burden. God tells Adam, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food.” Now thorns and thistles would complicate farming. Much sorrow would enter the picture.
Work still represents God’s purpose for people. Much blessing and fulfillment accompanies faithful labor. But, like Adam, we toil by the sweat of our brow because of sin in the world. Work problems multiply. Labor-management strife develops. Unemployment affects many. Some work takes a tremendous physical toll. Other work exacts a serious mental and emotional price. Sometimes we deify work and let it rule our lives with no room for God or people’s needs. Sometimes we devalue work and become lazy sluggards, expecting others to provide for us. Both distortions reveal our sinful rebellion against a loving God.
But in our labor we remember Jesus Christ. He is the One who worked with His hands as a carpenter and called to Himself rugged fishermen and tax collectors. He did the work of Him who sent Him (John 9:4). In prayer His sweat was like drops of blood (Luke 22:44). He completed His saving work on the cross and rose from the dead.
Jesus knows our needs and our labor problems. He promises to be with us. He restores our work to its joyful significance in God’s creation. We continue to toil by the sweat of our brow, but through the sweat we see his face.
PRAYER: Father, move us to work joyfully for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
(Devotions from “My Daily Devotion” by Dr. Stephen J. Carter, copyright 1988 CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend. For ordering information, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit www.cph.org.)
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