Theology Of Work (TOW) 3: Challenges Of Work (Traditional)

January 21, 2024 | Traditional Worship Service

Rev Lilian Ang
Theology Of Work (TOW) 3: Challenges Of Work (Traditional)

January 21, 2024 | Traditional Worship Service

Rev Lilian Ang
Scripture Passage: Genesis 3 (NIV)

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Summary l After the fall of humanity, we see the consequences of disobedience and the introduction of difficulties into the realm of work. (v16-19) We reflect on the implications this has for our daily lives, as we navigate the thorny path of labour in a fallen world.

God created us to be actively involved in caring for and stewarding our world. Yet, today’s passage highlights that work is now hard work. Tim Keller’s book ‘Every Good Endeavour’, talks about our problems with work. We wrestle with issues when work becomes fruitless, pointless, selfish and reveals our idols.

Choices and Consequences (Gen 3:16-18)

Every choice made has consequences. Adam listened to Eve and ate the forbidden fruit. In response to Adam’s disobedience, the Lord declared that cursed is the ground because of you. It introduced toil and hardship into the very fabric of work. Once fruitful and abundant ground now yielded thorns and thistles, and can only be cultivated with much effort. Work had existed earlier in the garden of Eden before it became toil. Work itself is not inherently a curse, but the curse made work difficult. Work became more important after the fall, because more effort is now required to get the necessary results.

Adam and Eve’s desires overrode God’s word. Their notion of what is good was based on what they thought was desirable. It was not rooted in what God said enhances life. In disobeying God, they broke several relationships inherent in their own beings. Their relationship together was driven apart. Adam and Eve hid from each other using fig leaves. They no longer talked with God but hid themselves from God’s presence. They blamed others for their actions. A discipleship lesson is to take responsibility for our actions, instead of blaming others. Let us respect the limits set in the workplace and bridge the gap of broken relationships in an alienated world. We can be instruments of peace.

Sweat and Stresses (Gen 3: 17-19)

Through painful toil, humanity will eat from the ground in a fallen world. The serpent will have to crawl on its belly, women will have painful childbirth and men have to toil to make a living. Like Adam, we too encounter obstacles and difficulties in our daily labour. The pursuit of sustenance is a demanding task. Humans will still do the work they have to do and God will still provide, but work has become more difficult — perhaps fruitless and pointless, marked by frustration, a lack of fulfilment, emotional and physical fatigue. Work may lead to burnout and we cannot run away from office politics. Given these challenges, can we find purpose and fulfilment? Let us seek God’s purpose for us, help shape the work culture and serve in the spirit of excellence wherever we are. When faced with big challenges at work, do we run away, keep a distance or find ways to overcome it?

Reliance and Redemption (Gen 3:19)

God reminded Adam of the temporary nature of our work in this fallen world. While work is a significant part of our lives, it is not the ultimate source of our identity. Understanding the temporary nature of our work should lead us to commit to a deeper reliance on God. Let us not lose sight of our eternal calling and the significance of our relationship with our creator.

We face challenges in work because of the fallen nature of our world. However, there is hope beyond the thorns and thistles. Through a deeper reliance on God, we can find purpose, resilience and fulfilment in our labour. Our work should be considered as part of the redeeming work of Jesus. Our faith translates to the attitudes and behaviour that we bring to our work.

The brokenness of sin will not stop God from working through us. Let us centre our work on God and join him in his redeeming work in this world. Christ has called us to spend our lives in His service.

(Sermon notes by Denis Koh)


A. Choices And Consequences (v16-18)

  1. What does a normal ‘work day’ look like for you? What challenges and struggles do you deal with as part of your work, whether as a student, home-maker, retiree or in the marketplace?
  2. In what ways do you grapple with taking responsibility for your work-related challenges?
  3. The curse in Genesis 3 introduces toil and labor. How can awareness of potential consequences influence your decision-making in the workplace?

B. Sweat And Stresses (v17-19)

  1. In the aftermath of the Fall, relationships are strained. How might this mirror challenges in interpersonal relationships for you?
  2. How can you navigate and improve relationships in the workplace despite challenges?
  3. Adam and Eve’s disobedience challenges the established authority. In what ways do you struggle with authority in the workplace, and how does it impact your work experience?
  4. Genesis 3 describes the introduction of thorns and thistles, symbolising frustration and stress. How do you cope with similar challenges in the workplace? What practical steps can you take to maintain a healthy balance and perspective?

C. Reliance And Redemption (v19)

  1. Despite the challenges presented in Genesis 3, there is a promise of redemption. How can you find hope and work towards restoration in the face of work-related difficulties?
  2. How can you join God in his redeeming work in the world?
  3. In what ways does a redemptive perspective impact your approach to challenges at work?
Wesley Communications Team
Posted by Wesley Communications Team

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