Have you ever thought that this life here and now, however long you get, is your GIFT from God. What you do with it (a lot of which will involve work) is your GIFT back to Him.
The way the Bible describes it, the original human beings were commissioned, authorised and commanded to go into and subdue the garden outside of Eden, to extend it – to go and do good there, where there was chaos – through their labour they’d bring order, hope, life, beauty and meaning. To build cities. They were to do this through various different kinds of work, not just gardening.
Maybe even making cars. Why do I say that? Because Genesis 1:24 – says,‘God drove the man out of the garden…’
Bit of a Dad joke there.
This idea that your work is your gift back to God comes sharply into focus when we look at what happened to the next generation – their two sons, Cain and Abel.
You might know Cain eventually killed Abel -that’s what’s famous about their story.
But what happened before the murder gives us some important clues about work. About your work and mine, whatever we do, whether you’re paid or you volunteer, or if you’re retired (actually Christians never retire, they just get redeployed). It’s true whether you’re raising millions or raising something much more valuable – kids.
….Eve became pregnant. When she gave birth to Cain… later she gave birth to his brother and named him Abel. When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift—the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.
They were both in agriculture. Abel’s work was looking sheep. Cain carried on the old family business, working the land. Which was good work? BOTH. Pretty much anything within reason can be work done for God. It’s who you’re really working for not what you’re doing that matters to Him.
Then the time came when they offered their work to God. It doesn’t say they had to do this. Nothing was prescribed or demanded. It was up to them, but their attitude and actions really would show who they were working for. Their choice. God didn’t say, ‘I want this kind of offering.’ He just put them to work, and left it up to them. God gives us a great deal of choice you know. He didn’t make Pinocchio puppets, he wants real children who really love Him.
So what have you been bringing to him? Especially in this area of work. Because the Bible tells us only one kind of offering was acceptable to God.
What did Cain bring?
Cain brought SOME. Some of the fruit of his labour. Some lettuce, leek or lentils.
Do you bring God SOME? Maybe Some of YOU. Just your MIND – you mentally assent that he’s there, you know where he is if you need Him to answer a prayer. Or just your BODY – maybe you sometimes even bring it to church. What more does God want?!
Here’s a test of that. When you go to work, how engaged are you? With what you’re doing now? Are you waiting for the dream job – then you’ll not just bring SOME of you? Keep on dreaming! It’ll never happen. Nobody gives a dream job to a half-hearted person. Nobody promotes someone who just turns up.
You might think ‘I’m doing just enough,’ but that way your work won’t get the blessing of God. It says ‘God didn’t FAVOUR that.’ Cain ended up resenting his boss. Then he started hating the person standing alongside him. Became sullen, critical and disengaged. How many people do you know at work like that? Maybe you’re like that?
You say, ‘Well you don’t work where I work!’ No I don’t. But I know this…
You want the favour of God on your life? His smile on your work? Don’t just bring SOME of it – or some of you. He can’t bless that!
ABEL got the blessing.Why? The old versions of the Bible say he brought ‘the fat portions.’ Larry the lardy little lamb. His favourite. The best! The Firstborn. The BEST of the BEST. That’s what Abel brought from his work – as his GIFT to God.
This tells me, whatever we do, God, who gave His best for us, wants the BEST from us! He expects his people will bring their best. He blesses it and best pleased when we give our best! Don’t just turn up with a limp lettuce, bring a leg of lamb. Be the best and give God your best, and you’ll be blessed!
I don’t know what this looks like in your world, you’ll have to work it out Monday to Friday, This week, whatever you do, ‘Work at it with all your heart – as though working for the Lord and not men’ and He will bless you!
(This article comes from my recent teaching ‘Work – the Four Letter Word’ in our Work series, brought on the evening of the 22nd April. The full talk will be free to download from the Ivy website or on iTunes).