Thorns & Thistles

To Adam [God] said…Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food.” (Genesis 3:17-19a)

After a particularly frustrating day at the office, it can be tempting to believe that work itself is a curse—a “necessary evil” and consequence of living in a fallen world. But that’s not at all what Scripture teaches. 

As we’ve seen over the past two days, God himself worked, thus giving great dignity to our work today. Then, he passed the baton of creation to us to work as his image-bearers to “fill the earth.” Genesis 1 and 2 show us that work is inherently dignified and good. Work existed prior to the Fall and thus, work was designed to be worship.

But—and this is a big but—sin messed everything up. As today’s passage reminds us, sin doesn’t just impact our souls and individual standing before God. It impacts the whole of creation, including the world of work. Because of sin, our work has become “painful toil” as the “thorns and thistles” of fallen creation make our work frustrating and arduous.

So, if you have a difficult day at the office today, remember this: Work is not hard because it is inherently evil. Work is hard because we still live in a fallen world. 

But sin didn’t just make work difficult. As we’ll see tomorrow, the Fall also ensured that we will be tempted to foolishly look to our work as a means of salvation.


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