Day 16 | To Cultivate And Keep It

“Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.”
Genesis 2:15

“Making a difference” can be such a wide and far idea! We each have different giftings, passions, social circles, ways of influencing, ways of serving and working. My “making a difference” could look very different from your “making a difference” and that’s so very beautiful. Our world and the people around us need each of us to figure out what our “making a difference” is! 

Many of us spend 40-60 hours a week in a job where we feel like it’s impossible to make a difference. Or at least, make the difference we really want to make. So how do we live a life hungry to make a difference when we feel stuck?

Pastor, theologian, and author Tim Keller has given a helpful definition for work: “It is rearranging the raw material of God’s creation in such a way that it helps the world in general, and people in particular, thrive and flourish.”

There are definitely some jobs that are just soul-sucking and hurt God’s creation and harm God’s people – I’ll leave that up to you to talk to God about. But for the vast majority of us, we find ourselves in jobs where we actually can be cultivators. We can live out the Genesis mandate – to have dominion, to work, and to take care of the world. Even before the fall, God places Adam in the garden and tells him to “cultivate it and keep it”. Work is good. God’s work in the world can occur through us cultivating and keeping what he’s given us.

I was recently standing at my kitchen sink and doing a big load of dishes. I had the cynical thought, “Yay, I get to put away all of these clean dishes so I can load this dishwasher with more dishes and then put those dishes away and just forever clean these dishes.” I immediately felt convicted about the thought. I took a step back and chose to reframe the situation. “I’m a cultivator. God gave me this work and it’s good work. I’m cultivating a home where we can serve people. We use these dishes to share food and stories and encouragement with other people. These dishes provide a way for my world and my people to thrive and flourish. This is good work.”

For parents, maybe cleaning up the house after the kids are put to bed can look different for you. Maybe the reframe is something like, “I’m cultivating a home where my children get to wake up tomorrow and have a blank canvas to create and explore and discover God’s goodness in this home. The mess means they’re discovering life and joy in God.” 

For those of you in jobs you’re not stoked about, start asking God to help you reframe the situation. Pray something like, “God, reveal to me how this is good work. Help me see how this can provide a way for my world and people to thrive and flourish.” I truly believe God wants to use you right where you’re at to be a cultivator. He wants to use you and your work to help people thrive and flourish.

Lydia Long
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1 Comment

Mike Roberts - January 31st, 2023 at 10:45am

Thank you Lydia!

This is a powerful word. We (E3invest, Far Corners and Life Church) are equipping and empowering pastors, widows, human trafficking victims, educating children and working with lepers to start businesses to be be self sufficient and thrive. This word is perfect for the church gathered and scattered from Reno to India and all points in between. We have an on line training tomorrow night with pastors and kingdom leaders who have started new businesses to eliminate economic and spiritual poverty in the worlds largest and youngest country. Thanking The Lord for you Lydia and for all of our LC team and family!

Love y’all and praying for y’all.