Genesis 2:15-25 A Theology of Work

My students are reading a book I was assigned at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in the doctoral program.  The book is by Timothy Keller and it is called Every Good Endeavor.  The Amazon summary of the book reads:

With deep conviction and often surprising advice, Keller shows readers that biblical wisdom is immensely relevant to our questions about work today. In fact, the Christian view of work—that we work to serve others, not ourselves—can provide the foundation of a thriving professional and balanced personal life. Keller shows how excellence, integrity, discipline, creativity, and passion in the workplace can help others and even be considered acts of worship—not just of self-interest.

The original married couple were assigned work before the Fall of mankind.  Work is meant to be a shared delight in a marriage.  It is not the drudgery of the typical honey-do list or chores.  The joy is that we join in a vocation.  Vocation comes from the Latin vocare which means to call or to summon.  Work is created by the God who calls us to action.  It has dignity.

In our economic system, worth is attributed by salary not by calling.  A higher salary calls more loudly to the fresh college graduate than the voice of God.  To what has God called you?  How has God wired you?  Are you using the unique gifts with which God has equipped you?

Genesis 2:15-25

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Prayer

As we choose our work, let us listen to your voice calling us.  Once we choose our work, let us see beyond the paycheck to its deeper purpose.  Let us seek to serve others through our vocation rather than focus on how our job serves us.

Questions

  1. Why does mankind work?
  2. What do you think was Adam’s attitude to work?
  3. What attitude to work does the Bible advocate?
  4. How do you think theologically about work?
  5. If you worked the job called called you to do, what would that be?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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15 Responses to Genesis 2:15-25 A Theology of Work

  1. Maelynn says:

    1. Well, nowadays, people work to survive and to pay for whatever their lifestyle may be.
    2. I think Adam saw his work as an assignment from God. I think he wanted to do it so he could please and honor God.
    3. I think the Bible implies that we should have the attitude that whatever we do, we do for the glory of God.
    4. While my work does pay my bills, it is also what I truly believe that God has called me to do. My work is an avenue through which I can make disciples of Jesus Christ.
    5. Well, I believe that God has called me to be a teacher and make a difference in children’s lives.

  2. Andrew Moore says:

    1. People primarily work to support themselves and his family.
    2. I think Adam had a good attitude concerning the work that he did.
    3. The Bible encourages people to work. Although the earth is cursed, thus making work more difficult, it is hard to read the Bible and come to a negative perception of work.
    4. I think that it is very important to work and that we can honor God in everything we do, including work.
    5. I think that God has called me to be a teacher and I am working towards that occupation.

  3. Maria T. says:

    1. Why does mankind work? Mankind works because God works, and man images God in this way. The purpose for working now is out of necessity for survival.
    2. What do you think was Adam’s attitude to work? Before the Fall, Adam was probably happy about his work.
    3. What attitude to work does the Bible advocate? An attitude of diligence and thankfulness.
    4. How do you think theologically about work? I believe that we best image God when we are working at something that He has called us to do. I believe that there is a time to work and a time to rest. I believe that the Bible speaks about work, and helps us to wisely keep God at the center of everything we do.
    5. If you worked the job God called you to do, what would that be? I believe that God is calling me to work in education.

  4. 1. People work in order to care for those they love and/or themselves.
    2. With the fall, Adam’s attitude towards work was broken as well.
    3. We are to do all of our work to the glory of the Lord with excellence.
    4. When we are working in the position that God has called us to even if it is by far more difficult than any other thing we have done their is a sustaining kind of strength and reassurance in that work that is not found in any other job or duty. We also need to consider the Bibles approach to rest because rest is a key part of working well.
    5. I believe that God has called me to minister to children through education.

  5. Megumi says:

    1.Mankind works (or should work) in obedience to God and service to others.
    2.Adam probably considered work pleasant and meaningful occupation.
    3.The Bible advocates a responsible hard-working work ethic and an obedient servant attitude.
    4. Depending on the type of work, I doubt that some people think theologically about their work at all.
    5. I think I would be working with kids, especially kids in multicultural contexts.

  6. Christa says:

    1. Why does mankind work? Mankind works because it is the duty given to to us by God
    2. What do you think was Adam’s attitude to work? I think that Adam found joy and pleasure in doing the work in the garden prior to the fall; after the fall, I think he found it far more difficult and painful
    3. What attitude to work does the Bible advocate? The Bible advocates a positive attitude toward work because it is a gift from God to us
    4. How do you think theologically about work? I often forget that work has been given to me from God and can sometimes despise it, especially when I am doing a job that I do not find purpose in
    5. If you worked the job called called you to do, what would that be? I would love to work a job that is with children and was creative and purposeful (teacher)

  7. Today, mankind works for a salary and to provide for family. Adam’s attitude toward work was probably one of great joy and privilege. The Biblical view of work is one of giving and working for others and being joyful and humble while you work. I often work for money and don’t think about the importance of working as ministry. God has called me to work with children and I would do that in any capacity (teaching, working in children’s ministry, coaching, etc.).

  8. Mankind works nowadays to survive, although it was not always that way in Eden. Adam probably took much pleasure from working-God was walking with him in the garden!!! Work is a blessing and a necessary thing, if we do not work we will not have anything we need. I realize that any work I may have to do weather it is meaningless to me or not, God has ordained that. I now that it also can easily become about the money. I believe God has called me to be a teacher of children, is some way working with children and guiding them and helping them grow.

  9. Jung Kim says:

    1.Why does mankind work? Mankind works in order survive, eat, live, and to make money for living.
    2.What do you think was Adam’s attitude to work? I think Adam was pleased with his work before the Fall.
    3.What attitude to work does the Bible advocate? The Bible advocates that one would work with joy and diligence. Also, do it as if you are doing it for the Lord (Col. 3:23).
    4.How do you think theologically about work? Often times, I take work for granted even though I have a good job on campus. I truly think that it is such a privilege from God to work for my professors at Moody in which I can serve God through working hard and being obedient.
    5.If you worked the job called called you to do, what would that be? It would be a missionary who teaches younger kids such as elementary or kindergarten. Also, being a faithful wife and a mom will be my other life-long job, I think. 🙂

  10. Emmy R says:

    1. People work to make a living and support themselves and those they love.
    2. Prior to the fall I think it was just a natural part of his being, something he enjoyed and was pleased with.
    3. The Bible advocates for a hard worker, one who is working for the Lord rather than men.
    4. I think it is very easy to separate God from work, even in ministry. Although I think it is important to view work as a gift from the Lord, and to look at it as a way to serve and worship Him.
    5. I believe it would be serving His underprivileged children by providing them with a Bible based education.

  11. 1. Mankind works because that is the way our society functions. We work in exchange for money, and we need money to pay for things to help us survive.
    2. I think Adam was content with working before the Fall. I would imagine he didn’t see it as work, but more so as pleasure.
    3. The Bible advocates honest work and work that is done for God’s glory.
    4. I think theologically about work in the sense that I am honest with my time and I try to bring glory to God by having a good attitude and by treating people with respect.
    5. I believe God is calling me to teach in an elementary education classroom to teach students about God and His love for them.

  12. Nate Silvieus says:

    1. Work is something instituted by God, but he must do it to survive and provide and hopefully make a lasting impact.
    2. Prior to the fall, I think he would have found it a joy, especially after receiving Eve as a helper.
    3. Working for the Lord, and not for man- Col. 3:23.
    4. Most of the time I don’t- work is work, and usually not enjoyable. However, when I remember to put my focus toward the Lord, work usually becomes easier, because work I then realize that work is actually a blessing from the Lord.
    5. Teaching the Bible.

  13. Christina W. says:

    1. Mankind works because that is what God has called him to do. Also, today we work in order to provide for ourselves and our families.
    2. Before the fall, I think that Adam’s attitude towards work was one filled with joy and pleasure.
    3. The Bible advocates working hard as unto the Lord.
    4. Most of the time, I feel that I do not think theologically about work. However, when I do, I think about working hard as working for the Lord and working with integrity.
    5. At this point, I believe that I am being called to work with children in the classroom setting.

  14. Michael McCardle says:

    Why does mankind work?
    To take care of the earth which is what God has called him to do. Man also works to survive and provide for his family.
    What do you think was Adam’s attitude to work?
    I think that Adam probably loved working in the garden. That would’ve been blast taking care of the animals and stuff. I also bet there were no weeds before the fall:)
    What attitude to work does the Bible advocate?
    Hard work pays off, you reap what you sow.
    How do you think theologically about work?
    I have never thought of work in a theological aspect. But I think that work is meant to be accompanied with rest.
    If you worked the job called called you to do, what would that be?
    To be a high school Bible teacher and to coach high school football.

  15. Olyn says:

    This challenged me to think about how I will see my job as teacher-will I choose comfort and a good paycheck in a nice neighborhood if I know that God is calling me elsewhere? I went into the education major because I felt God’s calling to teach, and He opened doors for it. However, as I draw closer to student teaching, and later graduation, I want to be sure that I am still doing it for the right reasons-namely, to serve wherever the Lord calls.

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