by Hugh Whelchel
The following is an excerpt from Monday Morning Success: How Biblical Stewardship Transforms Your Work, a recently published ebook by Hugh Whelchel on the biblical meaning of success. Download the ebook FREE here.
From his first steps on the earth, man received a charge from the Creator: work. As a culture, even as Christians, we’ve wandered away from the idea that we were created to work. We tend to view work as something negative. But God placed Adam in the garden to work it and take care of it before sin tainted his good world. As Christians, our mission is summarized by what is called the cultural mandate:
God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’
We are to oversee all that is God’s while we await our Savior’s return. God has given us authority to take care of the earth and use wisely all that he has placed in it. Pastor Tim Keller writes in his book Every Good Endeavor,
“… We do not see work brought into our human story after the fall of Adam, as part of the resulting brokenness and curse; it is part of the blessedness of the garden of God. Work is as much a basic human need as food, beauty, rest, friendship, prayer, sexuality; it is not simply medicine but food for our soul.”
The cultural mandate also emphasizes that the physical world is a good and beautiful part of God’s purposes in this world. Far from a bus ticket to heaven, our salvation is an invitation to participate in the restoration of all things. Our stewardship of the physical world is just as important as our cultivation of spiritual gifts. Therefore, all that we do is worship – planting a garden, cleaning a school, creating a spreadsheet, building a hospital.
In our work within God’s world, we follow his pattern of work in creating it. Just as he brought order out of chaos, we cultivate in our vocational arenas. Keller continues,
“When we take fabric and make a piece of clothing, when we push a broom and clean up a room, when we use technology to harness the forces of electricity, when we take an unformed, naïve human mind and teach it a subject… we are continuing God’s work of forming, filling, and subduing.”
How might your own experience of work be transformed if you really believed this to be true?
How could the Genesis 1:28 Cultural Mandate transform your own work?
God created you to work and wants you to work well with joy in your calling. Work is truly meant for good; for our own good and for the good of our neighbors.
Hugh Whelchel is the executive director of the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics (IFWE) and author of How Then Should We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work. IFWE is a Christian research organization committed to advancing biblical and economic principles that help individuals find fulfillment in their work and contribute to a free and flourishing society. For more information, visit www.tifwe.org.