If you’re like me, your job feels oppressive and pointless – like a necessary evil to get to payday. I think back to my childhood days when that’s how it felt anytime my parents asked me to do something. “Chores are torture!” I would tell my dad. It must have made him think, “Girl, just you wait and see!” I spend 40+ hours per week moping at my desk and working half-heartedly because I don’t care about the work I’m doing.
We live in an individualistic society where we are focusing ourselves more than ever before. Everything is supposed to fulfill you, make you happy, feel good, or else we naturally want to avoid it. In his book Every Good Endeavor, Timothy Keller talks about this social “disease” of individualism which has caused our sense of community to die in popular culture. Today it’s easier than ever to not have to leave the house and go outside. People don’t rely on each other. Next door neighbors have never even met. It’s common to hear someone say in a jokey way, “I wanted to go out, but didn’t want to put on pants”. It’s funny on the surface, but deeply disturbing when we realize that these “harmless” ways of life are only symptoms of underlying sin. Put simply, when we only want to do what feels good to us and avoid work and responsibilities we are walking by our natural reasoning which the Bible says leads to death.
In contrast, we walk by the Spirit when we consider God’s will and purpose for ourselves to be better. Did you know that God assigned Adam his work before the fall, not after? I was surprised to find that in God’s eyes work is not a punishment, but a special privilege. “The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it” (Genesis 2:15 NLT). God had just finished creating the whole world from nothing. The Garden of Eden was beautiful but not complete until he gave it into Adam’s care and protection.
We have our own little gardens of Eden to tend and fortunately for me, gardening know-how is not required! It’s our choice whether we water and prune wisdom and fruit of the spirit. When we choose to operate outside of God’s will and purpose for ourselves, we suffer the consequences. Our wisdom withers away and the fruit of the spirit rots on the vine when we do not watch and carefully tend our little plots. But when we work hard at growing our characters within God’s will, we see results. Assurance, blessing, and hope in Jesus are only a few examples of the abundance of God’s garden. These are eternal things which never perish. Jesus tells us that we must labor for the “food” which endures, which can only come from him (John 6:27 ESV). How will we grow our virtues if we only spend time concerned about perishable things?
What do you think? Don’t take my word for it -Spend some time in the word and journal as the Spirit leads on these verses in their specific context:
- Genesis 2:15
- John 6:27