Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. (Genesis 2:1-2)
It feels like there’s been a resurgence of Christians committing to rest in general and Sabbath specifically in recent years. As I wrote about last week, I’m all for this! But my fear is that we’ll swing the proverbial pendulum too far in the other direction, with some Christians taking the Biblical command to rest as a license for laziness.
Thankfully, God hasn’t left us in the dark regarding the ideal balance between work and rest. He shows us in today’s passage where it says he worked six days and rested one. Talk about imbalance! God worked wholeheartedly, and then he commanded us to mimic his rhythm: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God” (Exodus 20:9-10).
God set [the lights and stars] in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day. And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” (Genesis 1:17-20)
God could have created everything in a single day. But instead, he paced himself, spreading the initial work of creation over six “days.”
Take today’s passage as an example. On the fourth day, God created the sun, moon, and stars. Could he have also created “living creatures” that same day? Of course! But he chose not to. After finishing the work of creating the heavenly lights, God called it a day. He rested. And then of course, on the seventh day, he did no work at all, establishing for the first time the idea of Sabbath (see Genesis 2:1-3).
Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:11-12)
Today’s passage is just one example of a theme we see throughout Genesis 1: God calling the material world “good.” Why is this important? Because it helps us debunk the lie that “spiritual work” is more important to God than work that is more concrete and earthbound.
Let me trace the logic here. Many Christians have grown up believing a misinterpretation of 2 Peter 3:10 which says the earth will be “destroyed by fire” in the end. If we take that literally, then we must assume that our ultimate existence will be disembodied souls floating on heavenly clouds for all...
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:3-4)
I finished writing my last book on a Friday and started writing the next one the following Monday. I took almost no time to stop, see, and appreciate the goodness of what I had finished before moving on to the next thing. What a contrast to the way we see God working in today’s passage.
In the first chapter of Genesis, we are told seven times that God “saw that [his work] was good.” The language here suggests more than just a passing glance. You can envision God taking a step back, breathing deeply, and exhaling in delight as he gazed and marveled at the good work of his hands. He didn’t rush on to the next thing. He took the time to see and delight in what he had already made.
Again, what a contrast to the way we work today. You and I are always looking towards the...
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:1-3)
The bookends of today’s passage are familiar to us. Countless children’s books and sermons have repeated the words, “In the beginning God created” and “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” But it’s been a while since I’ve heard someone preach on the fact that “the earth was formless and empty.” What’s going on here?
Well, according to Moses (the author of Genesis), “in the beginning” the world was amorphous and chaotic, wild and unwieldy. And the rest of Genesis 1 shows God bringing form to the formless void. Establishing order where there was once chaos. But pay attention to how God brought order...
In the eighteenth year of his reign, King Josiah sent the secretary, Shaphan son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to the temple of the Lord. He said: “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest and have him get ready the money that has been brought into the temple of the Lord, which the doorkeepers have collected from the people. Have them entrust it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. And have these men pay the workers who repair the temple of the Lord—the carpenters, the builders and the masons. Also have them purchase timber and dressed stone to repair the temple. But they need not account for the money entrusted to them, because they are honest in their dealings.” (2 Kings 22:3-7)
The pandemic has ratcheted up the pressure to do our work honorably and with excellence even when our bosses aren’t watching. Because now more than ever, they’re not.
With more of us working from home or in hybrid environments, there are fewer...
Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses. (Proverbs 28:27)
It didn’t take long after our lockdown two years ago to realize that the pandemic was going to be a massive boon for some businesses—especially tech-centric businesses like Zoom, Uber Eats, and streaming entertaining services mostly staffed by high-wage workers. Conversely, other sectors of the economy such as restaurants and hotels, which are mostly staffed by lower-wage workers, took a massive hit and continue to suffer to this day.
Once again, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. How are you and I called to respond to that sobering reality? The way the Church has always been called to respond! As today’s proverb makes clear, we are commanded to give generously to the poor. What could that look like practically in this cultural moment?
First, if you’re one whom this economy has blessed...
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)
Since Disney’s Encanto was released just a few weeks ago, the movie has been played an embarrassing number of times in the Raynor household. If you haven’t seen it, here’s the gist.
Encanto is the story of the Madrigal family who live in an enchanted house that magically blesses each member of the family with a unique and extraordinary talent. But as the family’s matriarch frequently points out, the purpose of those gifts aren’t just to serve the individual or even the family—they are meant to serve the broader community outside the family’s magical home.
You see it, right? It’s essentially a story about spiritual gifts. And every time I watch the beautiful film, I’m reminded of today’s passage from...
You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)
It’s clear that one of the most lasting changes to our work post-pandemic will be where we work physically. Now more than ever, more of us are working from home or in some sort of hybrid environment. And by and large, we are loving it. According to the job search giant Glassdoor, searches for remote work are up an astonishing 460% in the past two years.
As someone who has worked from home for the past three years, I get the appeal. Remote work has some wonderful benefits. But it also carries a significant cost. Because as the Apostle Paul makes clear in today’s passage, our workplaces are one of, if not the, primary place where we can “win the respect of outsiders” and share the gospel.
So how should we as Christ-followers be thinking differently...
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Romans 5:8-10)
There are two signs that you’ve crossed over to the dark side of discipline. Last week, we looked at the first: a failure to extend grace to those who are less disciplined than you. Here’s the second sign: a failure to extend grace to yourself.
I can be hard on myself if I fail to complete my to-do list, get my kids to bed on time, or accurately estimate how long it will take to complete a project. But just as the gospel helps me extend grace to others, it is also the key to extending grace to myself. Let me explain.
We talk a lot here on The Word Before Work about how...