Take Up Thy Sword By Grant Phillips “And take the helmet of salvation, and the…
Trying to Beat the Curse
By Bud Hancock
“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Ephesians 4:28 KJV).
I have known people who seem to have spent a lifetime working hard to avoid working. I know that sounds confusing, but allow me to explain. I’m going to start way back in the Book of Genesis, when Adam and Eve were confronted by the Almighty, their creator, just after they committed high treason and handed over their earthly dominion to Satan who had acted through the serpent to deceive them. Remember that God had told His newly created man and woman to “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28 KJV). In their act of disobedience, they allowed Satan to have the dominion that rightfully belonged only to them; that dominion was supposed to be handed down to each new generation of their offspring. In other words, it was to be an everlasting dominion, an inheritance that should have kept the dominion over the earth and all God’s earthly creation in the hands of man.
As a result of their act of defiance to God’s command, He sentenced them to death, and not just a physical death that would eventually occur, many years later, but also to a spiritual death, a separation from the close loving relationship that God had desired to have with them. The spiritual death was immediate. In fact, that death had already occurred when Adam and Eve heard God’s voice calling to them to fellowship with them; at that point, they realized they were naked and were too ashamed to appear before God. When they said they were afraid, the faith in God’s protection for them was gone and fear had taken its place. When fear enters, faith loses much, if not all, of its power.
The Curse of Sin and Death
As a part of God’s instructions to his man to care for and enjoy the garden which He had planted for them, He told Adam to freely eat of every tree of the garden EXCEPT the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Regarding that tree, and only that specific tree, He said “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17 KJV). That curse was instituted by a benevolent and loving God in case Adam failed to obey His instructions. Had Adam not sinned, the curse would never have been activated. But the sin brought into play every aspect of the curse and God made sure they understood what changes would occur in their lives as a result of their sin. Eve was told, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Genesis 3:16 KJV).
And unto Adam he said, “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:17 KJV).
You may ask why the institution of, and then the activation of, the curse was an act of love and benevolence when it seems to have been an act of anger for man’s disobedience. I am quite certain that God was angry at their failure to obey Him, but that anger did not diminish His love for man or any of His creation. Remember that the Tree of Life was also in the garden and, had man been left there without having to pay any consequences for his sin, he might have eaten of the Tree of Life and lived forever in a fallen and sinful state (Genesis 3:22-24 KJV). From that perspective, God was definitely acting in love.
At that point, God removed them from the beautiful garden that He had provided for them, the garden wherein was everything they would ever need to live and prosper, without breaking a sweat. Due to their willful disobedience, they were forever locked out of the garden and everything good that had been provided for them. For the rest of their lives, Adam would be required to work for their food, and the earth was cursed so that it would resist their efforts to produce. And Eve would soon realize the cost of her acceptance of Satan’s deception. Her life of producing children would become one of sorrow and pain. What a change had taken place because of one decision. It has now been nearly six thousand years since that event took place and man has lived under that curse for that entire time.
Working Hard to Avoid Working
Since I was a small child, I watched my parents, my uncles and aunts, many of whom were farmers, live under that curse, working long hours in terrible conditions, fighting the ground to get it to produce, fighting weather that would sometimes make planting difficult if not impossible and that would at times destroy crops before they could be harvested. Indeed, they did sweat to earn their food, just as God had said they would.
But, I also saw others, people who I would later characterize as ‘lazy slackers’, who would use trickery, deceit, and outright theft to survive. They would do anything but work as a hireling, or a planter, to provide sustenance for themselves and their families. Oh, they might have brief bursts of actual work, mostly because they were forced to by a manager or supervisor. I saw many with whom I worked who would find ways to get others to do their assigned work, sometimes successfully , sometimes not. But I always thought, how much easier it would be to just do the work, learn some skills that would bring success in whatever work they do, and learn to enjoy, not only the work, but the results of their labor.
I marveled that they would spend so much time and so much effort, mostly mental, but sometimes physical, to profit off the labors of others rather than do the work themselves. It was many years before it finally hit me: By getting others to do their work, they were ‘defeating the curse’ that God put on the human race. They may not have looked at their scheming in that way, but at least they knew they were profiting off the labors of others. It was as though they were getting some perverse pleasure in knowing that they could survive without sweating or working hard. But God has said in His word, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:6 KJV). I did witness, with a certain amount of pleasure, the few times when they would get caught for being so lazy and I will admit, when they were punished, I enjoyed seeing them get what they deserved.
A Life of Self-Deceit
I would guess that many of those whom I saw trying to defeat, or at least ‘get around’, the curse, lived that way for their entire lives. I know of one, with whom I worked for nearly thirty years, who only worked when it was a direct benefit to his wicked ego. I remember the one time when I saw him work very hard for a period of perhaps a month, a feat that amazed not only our supervisor, but our entire work crew. When he was approached by the supervisor who wanted to praise and commend him on his newfound work ethic, and asked him what caused the sudden change in him, he actually said to the supervisor: “Oh, I’m glad you noticed; I just wanted you to know how badly I’ve been screwing you and the company all this time”. And, from that point on, he went back to his lazy, shiftless ways, grinning every day like a Cheshire cat who has put something over on the world. I lost track of him when I retired from that company so I have no knowledge of his status in later life. But I know one thing: eventually, what you do will come back on you, whether for good or evil.
I personally believed that, when God made the pronouncement about getting sustenance from a cursed earth, He was talking about those who would till the earth, in bad weather as well as good, fighting the thorns, weeds and thistles for the nutrition from the soil that would have previously brought forth its goodness without any effort. But, later, the question of those who have never put a shovel into the soil came up in my mind and I asked myself what the curse had to do with them. After all, they do not dig, or hoe or reap from the soil themselves. They have jobs doing tasks that provide ‘services’ for others, including those who do produce our food, and there are now many more people on this earth who have never worked the soil to get food, but who, like millions of people, simply drive to the nearest market and buy their necessities. They do have money for such purchases from the jobs that they have so they do survive without tilling the soil. But, God is no respecter of persons so His curse MUST pertain to all men.
Knowing all things that would ever transpire in this world, God must have looked ahead and known that, eventually, the population of the world would be divided into different groups: farmers, merchants, miners, seamen, builders, craftsmen, as well as those who would become His servants, the ministers of His gospel. Each profession that man would ever do had the potential to bring great blessings to the worker and to all who would eventually buy or consume the fruits of the labor. God also provided the intellect as well as the needed skills to become a master of whatever profession a man is called into. In that, God provided a way to live under the curse and not become totally frustrated and in despair. As long as one relies on God and His direction, it is possible to actually be happy living as we must, under the curse upon this world, until Jesus returns and sets up His perfect kingdom.
I also believe that God, in His wisdom will judge every person, regardless of the profession he or she has chosen, on the manner in which he handled the duties expected of him. He expects every worker to be true to his master and to provide a fair and honest day’s work for the pay given.
Anyone who thinks that he can continually avoid the God-given command to earn food by the sweat of his face and still be blessed and prospered is living a life of self-deceit. One can try to go that route but will always be under the shadow of failure since God does not lie. He said: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7 KJV). So, go ahead; work hard and reap the benefits of your labor!