This is a very important subject. It explains so much of why life is the way it is for man. If we try to cope with the difficulties of our daily labour without a biblical understanding of it, we are going to feel quite dissatisfied and discontent in our daily work. in order to understand the ‘Why?’ of our daily work, it must be seen in the context of the divine sentence pronounced by God on Adam after the fall. Our daily toil should never be seen in isolation from that sentence, no matter what the nature of that work is. We saw last week, how the first man and woman, by their disobedience, brought sin into the world, making them immediately ashamed in the presence of each other, and of God. They were no longer RightWithGod, nor right with one another as they were before. We also saw how God pronounced sentence on the woman.
Today, we are going to look at the all-important sentence pronounced on the man, Adam. Notice that this sentence is far more involved than that pronounced on the woman. First of all the ground is severely adversely affected by the fall. God pronounces a curse upon it: “Cursed be the ground for thy sake” (as a result of your disobedience). The sad effects of Adam’s sin on the ground is that the growing of crops for food was going to be accompanied by sorrow. This was a massive and very sad change. It was not the beginning of man’s work activity, because man was commanded to work even before the fall: Genesis 2:15, “The Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it”; At this point labour was a totally satisfying and pleasurable activity. The difference that came into man’s work activity was that the experience changed from a totally satisfying one into one of much toil and much frustration: Genesis 3: 17-19: “In sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life”. The diet at that time was mainly vegetable in character. This necessitated working the earth, but it would produce not only what was planted, but unwanted things, such as thorns and thistles: “Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth unto thee; and thou shalt eat of the herb of the field”. It was to be hard toil: “In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread”, and this continues throughout man’s life on this earth.
Does this have relevance for us today? It most certainly does. We are not all farmers, but the principles apply to every job in this life, whether we are manual workers, office workers, computer operators, top surgeons or even pastors, the principles apply. Every one soon comes up against thorns and thistle in some form in his daily work. The natural man sees nothing in his labours but toil and frustration, and he ends up living for his days off and his holidays for respite. This is the only way he can cope. He is not RightWithGod, and, consequently, no matter how satisfying the job may at first appear, eventually he cannot see his work as much more than a means of earning his living. However, for the child of God who has been made RightWithGod through Jesus Christ, things are, or should be different. He reads the first three chapters of Genesis, and he sees God’s judgement on mankind mixed with gospel mercy in Genesis 3:16. This enables him to cope with the thorns and thistles, because he knows they are God’s righteous judgement on mankind because of sin; he knows that by a full acceptance of God’s sentence, He glorifies God. He is saying to God, ‘Thou art just and right in all thy dealings with me, and because I see thy great mercy to me as a sinner in the promise of the Saviour in Genesis 3:15, I bow to thy rightness and justice’.
The unbeliever sees his labours as simply an economic activity, but the person who is RightWithGod sees his labours as a religious activity. He worships and glorifies God in his submission to the sentence. He is happy that in his work, because it brings him nearer to God, and that is the happiness of the christian in every area of his life. Once we really grasp this, our experience of daily labour is transformed.