Does God Care About My Work?
This lesson was piloted in April 2017 by Southern California Teen Challenge, in a program for women rehabilitating from drug addiction, prison, and prostitution. To see all lessons, go to the Women's Prison Curriculum Table of Contents.
This class will help you find a job and keep it. But it’s not just about finding a job. The Bible readings and discussions in this class will help you understand the special purpose God has for you as a working woman.
Many people sneer about ‘women’s work’ or claim that women shouldn’t work at all. But this was never true for God. From the beginning, God created women for important work.
Discussion Question: Did your mother work for a living, or work at home? How did she talk about her work?
God himself is a worker. In Genesis 1 God created everything piece by piece. God’s favorite piece of work was human beings. God created both men and women to be like him, in his image. And just like God is a worker, God created people to be workers too.
Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
God creates people with a job description in mind: ruling over his creation. In fact, the first time God talks to people it’s to give them instructions about their job.
God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
God tells people to fill the world he created, rule over it, and make something out of it. He wants people to take care of the world and also do something with it. Just like God created everything out of nothing, God expects humans to create homes, delicious meals, and businesses out of the world he gave them.
Because God created important work for people to do, working makes you feel important. Work makes you feel fully human. Work increases your self-respect and connects you with God who is a worker. If you feel good after you make something or clean something or help someone, it’s because it’s in your DNA to work. God made you that way.
In the second chapter of Genesis, we learn more about God’s specific job description for women.
Then the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.
God created the first woman to share the work with the first man. They were supposed to work together as partners. Unfortunately, many negative opinions about women and their work have come from the word ‘helper’ in this verse. Some people think a woman is only a lowly assistant to a man. But that was never God’s intention. The original Hebrew of the Bible says that the women was created as an ezer. The word ezer is used twenty-one times in the Old Testament, first to describe the woman, and then to describe powerful nations that Israel called on for help. Sixteen times in the Old Testament the word ezer refers to God. So woman isn’t a helper like a servant. Woman is a helper like a strong rescuer or a protector. Woman is a helper the same way that God is our help.
In the original language of Genesis, God not only created you to be a worker, he created you to be a strong warrior.
Discussion Question: What do you think about these Bible passages about women? Do they have anything to do with you today?
Unfortunately, being a woman in the work world often doesn’t make you feel powerful. It can be hard to find a job, difficult to make ends meet, and you might face sexual harassment at work. That’s because the world isn’t perfect like God created it. Sin in people and in society creates problems.
When God created the world he also created limits. In Genesis 1:31-2:2 God put a limit on himself, working for only 6 days and resting on the 7th. God also gave limits to people. “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” (Genesis 2:16-17). Adam and Eve refused to follow God’s limits, so work became more difficult for them. Adam’s farming work, which had once made him a partner with God, became toil (Genesis 3:17-19). Meanwhile, Eve faced new challenges to “fill the earth and subdue it.” Filling the earth with children became more painful. Subduing the earth was harder because she herself would be subdued by her husband who would “rule over” her (Genesis 3:16) as a result of their shared sin.
Sin creates many ways people try to dominate each other. Even so, work itself isn’t cursed. It may be harder and more frustrating, but work is still a part of God’s good plan for you.
Discussion Question: What is the hardest problem you ever faced at a job?
In the fallen world we live in, work can be tough. But Jesus offers hope. God sent Jesus to earth to cancel curses.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” – in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Jesus took on the curse of sin so that every person who comes to faith also receives “the promise of the Spirit”. The promise is to restore people to the goodness for which God created them. Through Jesus you are free from the cost of sin. God also wants to restore your identity as an ezer, a beautiful warrior.
Discussion Question: Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?
God isn’t going to bring you back to your created greatness all on his own. Just like God made work a joint effort between himself and people, God asks people to help with his plan for redemption. If work is going to be more fun, more satisfying, and more godly, you have to help make that happen. There are many biblical principles in this class. By learning these principles, you will learn how you can bring God to work with you.
God has always counted on women to work with him. When Jesus first spread his message on earth, women financed his travels, using their money and skills to make his work possible.
He went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.
Mary, Chuza, and Susanna traveled with God. With their own money, these women made Jesus’ work possible. You too can go to work with God, or take God to your future workplace.
Discussion Question: Do you relate to any of these women who followed Jesus? Why or why not?