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  • Writer's pictureWill Stockdale

As Far As The Curse Is Found

The effects of the Fall on our labors

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return." (Genesis 3:17-19)

In 1719 Isaac Watts, the English hymn writer, wrote Joy to the World.” The first three lines of the fourth verse go: “No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.” The first two lines reference a portion of our passage for this week. Adam and Eve’s sin brought God’s judgment on the earth. If you’re wondering how far that curse is found, the answer is to the very ends of the earth. There is nothing left untouched by sin, and that includes our work. 

Work is often hard, but that’s not necessarily how we know it was affected by the Fall. In the early days of creation, before sin entered the world, Adam and Eve were called to cultivate the Garden of Eden. That’s hard work! I’m sure that Adam had to flex some serious creative juices when it came time to name the goofy looking platypus. However, the Fall did introduce the threat and reality of things like futility and failure to our work. As with the rest of creation, the Fall was ultimately an invasion of death upon our efforts. 

A simple question might help us imagine this: Have you ever been burned by work? Not necessarily by someone at your work, but by the work itself. You pour yourself into a project for weeks only to see it all fall apart and feel an eventual sense of futility. You do your best to plan and execute your job but don’t see the results you want or need. You struggle to relate with and work alongside colleagues who have little to no interest in your success and might even be working against it. The list of examples could go on, and I’m sure that each person reading this devotional could add their own stories to the list. These experiences can be discouraging, defeating, and maybe even heartbreaking. 

In last week’s devotional Chuck Garriott shared three categories to consider our work: calling, stewardship, and consequence. God calls us to work, we respond by stewarding that work, and we trust the Lord with the consequences of our work. Sin and death challenge each one of these categories. But though they challenge them, the categories are not destroyed. We might question if we hear his call, but we know he speaks to us. We might face obstacles in our stewardship, but we remember to be faithful. We might fear sin-tainted consequences to our work, but we hope in the promises of God. 

We live in a world full of sin, but sin does not have the last word. As God in his power created the world, so God in his providence sustains it. As there is no corner of creation unaffected by sin, so there is no corner to which his blessings will not one day flow. 

By common grace God is using the work of those who know him, and those who don’t, to bring about his purposes. Death may have entered the world at the Fall, but it has no victory and its sting is gone. With these truths in mind we continue to work knowing that the call, stewardship, and consequence are all the Lord’s. And so we pray with the Psalmist, Lord, establish the work of our hands.

Rev. Will Stockdale is a Ministry Associate in Washington, D.C. and cohost of The Statement.


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