Read: Genesis 3:8-19

By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground . . . for you are dust, and to dust you shall return. (v. 19)

At the end of college, my best friend took a job at a factory. Though the work paid well, it was tedious. His coworkers spent breaks counting the days until their retirements. For them, work was empty toil. We were made to desire, and delight in, work. What went wrong?

The first humans lived in a paradise that provided for their needs. They were free to enjoy God’s company and God’s creation. God set one boundary: Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This single boundary raised a singular suspicion: God is withholding something good. The first humans transgressed God’s boundary. Their sin alienated them from God and propelled them from paradise. The immediate consequence was the corruption of work. That which should have been pure joy—bringing new life from the womb and the soil—became painful toil. Human life became a desperate bid for survival.

At the end of Genesis 3, God promises to reverse the effects of the curse. God fulfills this promise in Jesus Christ, who says, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). When Jesus redeems humanity, he also redeems work. No longer a means of keeping death at bay, our work can become a means of caring for creation and communing with the Creator. —Ben Van Arragon

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for rescuing me from death and redeeming my work.