We have a marvelous opportunity as English speakers and faith gardeners to consider the relationship of three words: Work, Word & Worship. Did you hear the alliteration or did the beginning letters W-O-R catch your eye? What might be the meaning of this alphabetical alignment? This alert to a possible secret treasure of understanding is particular to English, though partly revealed in ancient Hebrew. At the very least, we read that the work of creation came about under the command of God’s Words (Genesis 1:3-30), a mystery to revere and a relationship written down for us to engage.
Yet why indulge in such an inquiry—we have work to do! Spring is not a time for idle chit-chat; good grief, get the cucumbers and melon seedlings set! Prep the beds, overturn cover crops, spread composted manure, rake up the rest of winter’s leaves, scatter seeds…work is waiting, chores abound. Then again, just by asking the question, the Work-Word-Worship connection begins to wander in the back of our minds while we work. Hmmmm. Let’s let curiosity do its work and see where we are led. Garden duties beckon; may they bring us to God’s Word and worship of Him.
Work is Worship
Work was ordained in the garden, which must be why we are compelled to dig deeper; agreed, dear gardeners?
The Lord God took the man and settled him in the Garden of Eden to work it and to take care of it. Genesis 2:15 EHV
In the midst of the melodic chorus of “God saw that it was good” refrains, the Lord God set His first man to work. Care-taking the handiwork of God’s garden, how could Adam keep from thinking about the Lord and all that He had brought about in the abundant landscape?! Wouldn’t cultivating the garden nurture awe, love, and wonder of God in Adam’s heart?
Though filled with plants, gardens quickly remind us of people we love—how our grandmother was giddy for gardenias or how savory Dad’s tomatoes tasted. Likewise, Adam must have been mindful and adoring of the Lord, a simple definition of worship. Remember, work was all pleasantries at this point, so it is no surprise to discover that the Hebrew word “to work,” abad, has an alternate definition: To worship.
Can we also pause and ascribe the delight of what we see and tastily enjoy in our gardens to the Lord, pondering who God is and what He has done for us? Thereby, God has built our worship right into our garden work, hallelujah!
O Lord our God, let your sweet beauty rest upon us. Come work with us, and then our works will endure; you will give us success in all we do. Psalm 90:17 TPT
Give to the Lord the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness! 1 Chronicles 16:29 NKJV
As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore. Psalm 125:2 NIV
When our working thoughts are endearing of the One who created and crafted the natural world, its life-giving dynamics and resounding beauty, our tasks become bearable, their importance feels gratifying, and we can be moved to a deeper sense of His surrounding presence. Our hands do the work while our hearts worship Him.
Words for Work
Yet work can dilapidate quickly from awe-inspiring to awful; all it takes is a slight shift in attitude. Sadly, we are highly susceptible to cursing work, the fallout of Genesis 3:17, and prone to forget our focus on the Lord. This reality is depicted by fast-forwarding from the Garden of Eden to the brick-making fields of Egypt, where God’s people were plunged into bitter working conditions (Exodus 1:11-14). What was God’s command to their slavedrivers?
Let my people go, so that they may worship [abad] me. Exodus 9:1 NIV
Though there are many details and generations between these two stories, at the heart is a twisting wordplay on abad. God’s rescue of His people would reestablish the working order of their lives: Worshipping God.
What about us? What are we to do when facing difficult or disastrous work? Attitudes can easily leave pleasant refrains and move toward pouting and protest, especially while bearing unfair situations. How are we to keep approaching work with value and reverence, not bitterness and trash-talk? Thank goodness He has provided us with the right Words to overcome this downfall; He sent His Son, who is the Word, and His Words come with the power to accomplish all they are intended to do.
Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 The Message
The scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God and fit him fully for all branches of his work. 2 Timothy 3:17 Phillips
All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Colossians 3:17 DRA
Embracing the sacrifice and resurrection of the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, we find all we need to overcome work’s cursing; ingeniously the curse of Genesis 3:17 is countered in Colossians 3:17 and 2 Timothy 3:17. When we commit our work in His name, He will supply all we need in every struggle, misery, and discouragement to the outcome He has blessed.
Restore our work to worshipping you, O God, with one Word—Jesus!
Worship with Words
Gardeners, be encouraged! God has filled the Bible with beautiful Words to captivate our minds and help us be fortified to do our work. Savor these Scriptures and let your soul sink into the triumvirate of Work-Word-Worship.
Whatever you do, keep working at it with all your heart, as for the Lord and not for people, because you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. Keep serving the Lord Christ! Colossians 3:23 EHV
When Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, he said to them, “Take into your heart all the words I tell you today. Tell them to your children, so they may be careful to do all the words of this Law. This word is of great worth to you. It is your very life. Deuteronomy 32:45-47 NLV
And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped. Exodus 4:31 NIV
And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns. Philippians 1:6 TLB
Praise the Lord, all you nations! Worship him, all you peoples! Because God’s faithful love toward us is strong, the Lord’s faithfulness lasts forever! Praise the Lord! Psalm 117 CEB
“Be strong and courageous,” David said to his son Solomon. “Get to work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, because the Lord God, my God, is with you. 1 Chronicles 28:20 CEB
But cheer up! Because I, the Lord All-Powerful, will be here to help you with the work Haggai 2:4 CEV
…aspire to live a tranquil life, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your [own] hands, as we instructed you… 1 Thessalonians 4:11 NABRE
Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him to help you do it, and he will. Psalm 37:5 TLB
“‘So get to work, Zerubbabel!’—God is speaking. “‘Get to work, Joshua son of Jehozadak—high priest!’ “‘Get to work, all you people!’—God is speaking. “‘Yes, get to work! For I am with you.’ The God-of-the-Angel-Armies is speaking! ‘Put into action the word I covenanted with you when you left Egypt. I’m living and breathing among you right now. Don’t be timid. Don’t hold back.’ Haggai 2:4-5 The Message
O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! Psalm 95:6 RSV
They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. Deuteronomy 32:47 NIV
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Genesis 2:2 NIV
O Lord Jesus we love you!
Is [any] matter too wonderful for Jehovah? Genesis 18:14 DARBY
There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears. Philippians 1:6 The Message
Lord, my work may seem mundane, with no impact on the world, but this is not true: You are watching over me, and my work means everything to You! Help me to see the dignity you give my work by being mindful and ready to help me. May I commit all I do to You! Move me in your love to have a loving, generous attitude and to work as You did in creating the world. That’s a “big ask” for my small tasks! But you intend your goodness to fill my life and pour out to my surrounds, and my approach to my work is where you start. Grow my trust that You will help me see it through, and that You finish things with a flourish!
Find more devotions exploring God’s Words on work in the Garden Tools section of God’s Word for Gardeners Bible under Work Ethic beginning on page a-38.
Photo Credits: ©2017-2021 Shelley S. Cramm All photos from our Texas garden except the gorgeous line up of galvanized watering cans, a snapshot from my tour of Tonya LeMone’s Perennial Gardens in Lindon, Utah with GardenComm, Garden Communicators International Annual Conference (saw these and though of you, Connie!)
CEB notes Scripture quotations taken from the Common English Bible © 2011 Common English Bible, Nashville, Tennessee. All Rights Reserved. The CEB translation was funded by the Church Resources Development Corp, which allows for cooperation among denominational publishers in the development and distribution of Bibles, curriculum, and worship materials.
CEV notes Scripture quotations taken from the Contemporary English Version Copyright © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.
DRA denotes the Douay–Rheims Bible is a translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English made by members of the Catholic seminary English College, Douai, France. It was first published in America in 1790 by Mathew Carey of Philadelphia. Several American editions followed in the 19th and early 20th centuries; prominent among them the Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition Version. This edition of the text has been converted from the 1899 edition of the John Murphy Company, Baltimore, Maryland, and is in the Public Domain.
EHV notes Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® , EHV®, © 2019 Wartburg Project, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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NKJV denotes Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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TPT denotes Scripture quotations taken from The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017, 2018 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ThePassionTranslation.com