When Work Became Toil

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series here.

From Genesis chapter two to chapter three, work became toil. The beautiful, refreshing cultivation and keeping of the garden that God invites Adam into in chapter two becomes pain, thorns, thistles and sweat in chapter three. Instead of blessing, serving and giving life through order and pruning, Adam’s work became drudgery. Instead of the receiving the satisfaction of a job well done, the garden began to war against his efforts. All of us have felt these effects of the curse in different ways at our jobs. We’ve felt surface level frustration and drudgery; but toil goes much deeper into our hearts’ approach to work:

  • Toil means work will regularly feel meaningless, purposeless, rote and repetitive. (No matter how rewarding it is.)
  • Toil means work will be a place where people will try to find their identity instead of finding it in Jesus. In our culture we frequently define ourselves by what we do in an unhealthy and sinful way called performancism.
  • Toil means work will be a place where people try to find security instead of finding their security in Jesus. Job security is more than good standing with your boss.
  • Toil means work will be a place where people try to find approval instead of finding their approval in Jesus. Bosses and co-workers can become a primary source of adult peer pressure.
  • Toil means work is a place where people will try to find power, a sense of victory, status and success instead of finding power and victory in Jesus’ conquering of sin and death on the cross.
    • This means work I will be frequently disrespected and not valued appropriately as others try to “win” at work.
    • This also means I will be frequently tempted to disrespect and not value others as I try to “win” at work.
    • This means people (including myself) will be tempted to make cheap products and take shortcuts to “win” at the bottom line.
    • This means people (including myself) will be tempted to run their business in unethical ways to “win” at the bottom line.
  • Toil means no matter how hard I work, I will never make enough, accomplish enough or have enough to find true contentment and satisfaction in my job.
  • Toil means work is hard. The more I focus on complaining about how hard my work is, the more I am reveling in the curse and ignoring Jesus’ redemption of all things through His blood.

Jesus is the answer to sin and all of its effects on our work. Jesus restores our relationships with God so that we can find true love, status, purpose and security in Him. Jesus invites us into His mission and opens our hearts to offer loving service to our bosses and co-workers instead of competing with them for power and approval. Jesus restores us to the garden design for work. As we continue to see Jesus’ work done for us in the cross, we get freed up to see our work as a gracious provision from God for His glory and for our joy.

This post was contributed by Jon Ludovina. Jon serves by overseeing our teaching and preaching. Follow Jon on Twitter at @j_luda, or find out more about Midtown's leadership on our leadership page.