Work is a Curse and It’s Adam’s Fault…or Is It?

by Joe Plemon on January 28, 2011

I recently read this comment on the 48 Days blog : “I am a 48 yr.-old career changer who has fallen flat on his face financially after leaving my first career as a CAD operator to pursue my passion of teaching Bible. I’ve invested too much into getting a master’s degree to turn back, so I feel like vocationally I’m back at square one, just starting out. I’ve come to see that seeking after our “dream job” more often than not leads to disappointment and despair–especially as we age and feel we are running out of time. We should rather learn to recognize the value in what we are already doing, and find our contentment in being good at it. Remember, work is part of the curse incurred by Adam’s sin–we are not promised fulfillment in it.”

This man, after leaving one career to pursue a passion, is feeling disappointment and despair when his new career isn’t all he hoped it would be. He feels trapped: he can’t go backward and is running out of time to go forward. So what does he do? He blames Adam.

Is he right?

Should we think of work as a curse that we have to endure – an ongoing punishment from God – with no promise of fulfillment?  Well, his claim does have some credibility; after Adam and Eve sinned, God told Adam that his act placed a curse on the ground which would require hard work – tilling, weeding, etc. — in order to grow anything. See Genesis 3: 17-19.   However, he was wrong.  Here is why:

The ground was cursed, but not work.

Did you get that? Yes, the ground was cursed because of the sin of Adam. But the bible never says that work was cursed. In fact, work is held in high regard throughout scripture.

God worked.

The very fact that God was a worker gives “work” a perspective of creativity, productivity and purpose…never drudgery. Gen 2:2 “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.”

Adam worked before the fall.

God’s original intent for mankind, in a perfect environment, with zero sin, was to work. Again, work is portrayed as a joy, a completion of purpose and a normal part of life. Gen 2: 15 “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”

We will work in heaven.

Isaiah 65:22 is a clear indication that we will work in heaven. Obviously, work in heaven would not be some sort of dreary punishment, but a fulfillment of our eternal purpose. Think about it: if we are going to be doing a labor of love for an eternity, would it not be prudent to discover that labor today and get started now?

But…but…I hate my job!

I realize that all work isn’t fun. Still, Col 3:23,24 is a challenge (to slaves) to “work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” The point is this: even if you are not in a dream job; even if your work is menial; even if your boss is a jerk and you are doing what you hate to make ends meet…even then, there is honor in work. In fact, based on this passage, many consider work to be an act of worship. Should you just shrug your shoulders and settle with work you hate? Of course not. But realize this: if you do that work for the Lord, you will honor him.

Concluding thoughts

Some may consider work a curse from God; a lifelong drudgery that we must simply endure. I disagree. God worked to create this world. Adam worked while living in the Garden of Eden. We will all work in heaven. Work is a healthy activity; even work that is menial in nature can be a form of worship.

Work is not a curse. If you think of it as such, I challenge you to work heartily, as for the Lord. You will be greatly rewarded.

Note: you may want to click on this 48 Days link and read the comment thread.  The writer of the original comment, after reading what others say, shares some follow up thoughts.

Readers: Do you feel like your work is a curse?  If so, are you planning to settle with that mindset or do something about it?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Everyday Tips January 28, 2011 at 8:45 am

Life is full of choices, and what may seem like a curse to someone else may seem like a dream to me. I love digging in the garden and pulling out weeds. Some other may feel like that is a horrible way to spend time. To me, it sounds like the author has a case of the ‘grass isn’t always greener’ syndrome.

This may sound awful, but I view my job as a job. I try my hardest and I support my coworkers. However, I do not expect my job to fulfill every aspect of my life. If I did that, I would only be disappointed, there are too many variables involved I cannot control. Instead, I choose to focus on relationships, as that is what I find rewarding.

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joeplemon January 28, 2011 at 9:26 am

Kris,
I don’t think it is awful that you view your job as a job. The fact that you try your hardest and support your coworkers speaks volumes. There is honor in doing your best at something that that you don’t love. I did so myself for thirty years…it was a good job and I didn’t hate it, and while it didn’t complete my life, it did provide for my family.

I, like you, focus more on relationships, especially those within my family.

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krantcents January 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Since you choose your work, how can it be a curse? I believe in free will and choice. One should choose work that you have the skills and talent to succeed. You should have a passion for what you do, otherwise it will be drudgery! I enjoy my career about 95% of the time. The 5% I do not, I have very little control over. I am successful because I am happy and work at improving my efforts.

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yesiamcheap January 28, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Work in and of itself isn’t a curse. To work is a good thing. With that said if you find no fulfillment in your work and it hurts your feeling of self-worth, how crushing is it to work with that yoke around your neck? I don’t think we should all work 6-figure jobs to be happy. In fact one of the happiest people that I know makes $10 and hour and he is always smiling. But it is nice to find fulfillment in what you do.

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joeplemon January 28, 2011 at 7:07 pm

@krantcents,
Exactly. We have choices…in this nation. But part of what I quoted was written to slaves who had no choices. They were challenged to “work heartily, as unto the Lord”. This is where life gets really tough, but I believe it was important for those slaves to honor God by being industrious, even if the work itself sucked. Even in America, where we have choices, we still, at times, end up in work that we don’t love (5% of the time for you). When that happens, we have to make the best of it; to say work is a curse is a cop-out.

@yesiamcheap,
I too know people who, although they make very little money, are nevertheless happy. Work can be, and should be, a good thing even if the salary isn’t great.

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