idlphoto under Creative Commons
The doctrine of Work (NB: not “works”!!!) is a somewhat forgotten doctrine. In his excellent Disciplines of a Godly Man, R. Kent Hughes notes the following: “[Work] was given to man before the Fall, before sin, before imperfection.”
This is a pivotal point, as it is sadly the case that in our day work is often viewed as undignified, evil, and demeaning. This is patently false! According to the Scriptures, work is inherently good. God actually withheld from growing the plants until he created Adam, for “there was no man to work the ground.” (Genesis 2:5). Once he did create Adam, the plants grew (Genesis 2:8-9). Implicit in this is the fact that God definitely wanted Adam to work, and that he wanted Adam to tend to his creation in his work. That would be his primary vocation.
Indeed, it explicitly says, in Genesis 2:15, that God placed Adam in the garden for him to work there. God himself worked (see Genesis 1, and Genesis 2:2), and Jesus worked for 30 years before he began his gospel ministry. Work is consistently praised as a positive activity in the Old Testament (e.g. Proverbs 22:29, Proverbs 16:3, Proverbs 12:14, Proverbs 21:25, Nehemiah 2:18, Psalm 128:2). In the New Testament, this doesn’t change (1 Thessalonians 4:11, Colossians 3:23, Ephesians 4:28).
Indeed, it is important to remember that it is not that work itself is cursed; the “ground” which man is to work is cursed (Genesis 3:17). There is a big difference. If you drink curdled milk you don’t say that the act of drinking is curdled; there is a clear distinction between the action and the thing acted upon. What we do is cursed, and therefore it will be hard. Work is good, and remains so despite the curse. So, work hard! God wants you to.