When I carefully looked at the story of the Fall of man in (Genesis 3:1-7), I started to see why Adam and Eve fell – through deception. The enemy created dissatisfaction with what God had given man. The enemy was the author of lack. He sold Eve a false sense of scarcity by twisting God’s instructions. This is a lie the enemy uses all the time.
When I keenly went through the story of the Fall of man, I realized why Adam and Eve had fallen through deception; the enemy made them dissatisfied with what God had given them. He sold Eve a sense of lack by twisting God’s instructions. He told the woman, in Genesis 3:3, “Can it really be that God has said ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The enemy knew that God had made provision for man; there was only one tree he was not supposed to eat from. The tree of knowledge of good and evil.
So, God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed
that is on the surface of the entire earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you.
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may freely (unconditionally) eat [the fruit] from every tree of the Garden; but [only] from the tree of the knowledge (recognition) of good and evil you shall not eat. Genesis 2:16-17a
God gave man every plant-yielding seed on the surface of the entire earth and every tree with fruit-yielding seed for man’s pleasure. He also tells the man that he could freely eat fruits from every tree in the Garden (except one). Look closely at what the devil does; he tempts Eve into thinking that God was denying them the opportunity and privilege to eat from the Garden, “You shall not eat from any tree from the garden?” Eve then laboured out of God’s work to reach out for the forbidden fruit. With this deception, Eve chose to look outside their relationship with God for fulfillment, instead of trusting God to satisfy their every need. In doing so, Adam and Eve broke their relationship with Him.
I know that I have fallen into the same trap one too many times. Where God has made provision for me to live a fulfilling life – which can only happen if I am following His perfect will for me – but instead, I start to look outside of this provision. I have tried several times in my life to reach out to what I thought was a better life for myself than what God designed for me.
How many things are going right in my life that make me really enjoy it? So many, but the enemy keeps showing me the one thing I have not attained. He encourages me to reach out to that one thing and to do all it takes for me to get it. Most of the time, we achieve that thing and lose everything else freely provided for us by God.
At what cost will you get that promotion you feel you rightfully deserve? Sleeping with the boss? Or backstabbing and stepping on the toes of your colleagues?
At what cost will you get that tender or grab that business opportunity that can push your revenues to the next level? By bribing your way in? Or by doing dirty jobs for a famous Person of Interest? At what cost will you get to where you believe you should be? For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world [wealth, fame, success] but forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
THE CURSE FROM THE FALL
Then He said to the woman, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy,
and in pain, you will give birth. And you will desire to control your
husband, but he will rule over you.”
And to the man, He said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life, you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow
thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. By the sweat
of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust, you will return.”
In this account of the Fall of man, we see the curse from the Fall included:
㸯 Pain in pregnancy
㸯 Pain in childbirth
㸯 Desire to control the husband
㸯 Toil in labour
㸯 Thorns on the ground
㸯 Expulsion from the Garden of Eden
These curses derive from our desire to find satisfaction, identity, and meaning in things other than our relationship with God.
When you evaluate life today, we are endlessly striving to make a name for ourselves, be it by reaching the top of the corporate ladder or parenting the next Benjamin Franklin to discover electricity. All you need to do is take a look at the shelves of your local or online bookstore, and you’ll find countless resources on how to become a more effective, successful person in the workplace or business as well as how to best meet the physical and emotional needs of your child, even before birth. It’s as if all humanity is in search of the secret formula that guarantees our success in this life.
We always aspire to be the absolute best at what we do, which is a noble pursuit. The problem comes in when we measure our value through our successes and failures in life. A man’s worth is not in what he does but in who created him. God created man to bring Him glory in all circumstances of man’s life. And in paradoxical reality, our most significant failures bring Him the most glory because, in our weakness, His strength is made manifest.
Often, instead of taking our weaknesses and failures to our Creator, we try to fix the situation and end up outside a relationship with God. There isn’t a thing that can get us the answers we need to explain our failures and disappointments in life other than God.
THE CURSE OF TOILING
The ground is cursed because of you. All your life, you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. By the sweat of your brow, will you have food to eat.
The ground that was yielding every good and pleasant fruit-bearing tree was now cursed. This meant that Adam would struggle to get a good harvest from the same ground. It now grew thorns and thistles, and the only way Adam would eat off it was by the sweat of his brow.
Today, we toil not against actual thorns and thistles but against,
“the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other
things [that] come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful”
We seek the forbidden fruit of this world that will never satisfy us while God waits for us to come and walk with Him in the cool of the day. He can meet our every need as He did for Adam if only we would let Him.
In our modern-day, it is common and even fashionable to work very hard to provide for ourselves and our families. As earlier mentioned, working hard is of God if it is done in God and according to His will for each one of us. However, we have moved from working in His will to doing all it takes to achieve our goals. This is what I call toiling.
Overexertion is the energy that fuels toiling. Overexertion is defined as straining or putting too much pressure on oneself. An example of overexerting in exercising is to try to run ten miles when the body is only used to running five. At the workplace, overexertion is striving to be perfect in everything we do. But that’s not our purpose or assignment from God. God is not looking for perfect men and women to use. On the contrary, God knows our human limitations, and all He is seeking is an obedient heart and kindred spirit.
The Bible did not hide the flaws of the great men (and women) that God used throughout the history of mankind. The father of faith, Abraham, faltered off the path one too many times. He got impatient with waiting for the promised son and tried to help God bring the promise to pass by siring Ishmael with Sarah’s Egyptian maid, Hagar. David, known as a man after God’s own heart, took the wife of Uriah the Hittite, an elite soldier in his army, and organized for him to be murdered during the battle between Israel and the Ammonites. There are many examples of flawed and imperfect men and women in the Bible whom God used. These men and women were never perfect, but God used them anyway because they were willing, obedient, and swift to repent their sins.
Anytime we start overexerting ourselves, we should know that we are not in God’s rest. This is because God’s rest encourages us to cease our own works and enter into God’s works. When we put too much pressure on ourselves, we deny God’s working in and through us. Our confidence shifts from God’s power, promises, and ability to our own abilities.
In exercising, overexertion can lead to injury or even chronic health conditions. Hence, it is crucial to watch out for warning signs from the body and recognize when your workout is causing more harm than good. Some physical signs that you are overexerting include dehydration, fatigue, chest pains, difficulty breathing, wheezing, persistent coughing, and tightening of the chest which could mean a heart attack.
Similarly, there are spiritual signs that you are overexerting yourself. These symptoms include our ceasing from being spiritually refreshed in God’s presence, being always fatigued of this life, always dissatisfied even after achieving so much in life, not being able to pray in supplication and thanksgiving, and no longer enjoying doing the will of God.
Before Adam and Eve sinned, they never had to provide or sustain what God had given because God was already the provider and sustainer. In eating the forbidden fruit, they wanted choice – the option to pursue what they wanted. They wanted to be smarter, they wanted knowledge, but Adam himself had named all the animals God created, so he was smart already. That “wanting my way” is what got them into trouble. When God provides for us, He only does so for His assignments and in his own time. Discontentment with that system and God’s order of doing things is what got them into trouble.
Man must now labour for his existence on a cursed earth. Adam did work before the Fall for his leisure, but now his work would involve exhausting toil and suffering. He could no longer freely eat from the good trees that God had provided. More to this, he will return to the ground in death. Instead of becoming divine as the serpent promised, man will go back to the dust from where he was created.
You can only work where God sustains. If God is not sustaining and providing then that isn’t His work, it is toil. For instance, there is a considerable difference between working in a company and working for yourself. In a company, you don’t worry about the bills because the company provides everything – from the internet, the building, the finances, etc. In a company, you focus your energy on the job you have been given. All you know is you have a part to play, and if you play that part well, you and your company as a whole will excel. On the other hand, working for yourself is different because you have to provide or sustain everything.
This is how working for God is. Adam and Eve didn’t worry if it would rain this season, or if this plant would grow. God asked Adam to maintain or care for the Garden. He did not sustain it, God did. He did not even provide the Garden, God did. From the very soil to the seed, was God’s part. In the same way, the Israelites did not provide manna in the desert or water.
Working in God is walking in rest, and it requires that you allow God to be God. He is the provider and the sustainer. We should not do as Adam and Eve did. They wanted to disrupt the order of things, they made themselves gods, and they made themselves providers. As human beings, we are utterly incapable of filling such big shoes. That’s why if you want to work in God, you have to work for Him; for His goals; with His time; with His resources; and in His way. Examples lay all around for us in the Bible.
When you become your own god, you toil!
Find all the Episodes in this Series
A journey of recovery from toiling (modern day workaholism) to working (as God intended)