Closing the Gap – Week 34 Study Guide

By September 2, 2018Small Group Study Guide

Gen 3:17-19 17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Commentary— Sin has inevitable consequences. The woman was sentenced to suffering in childbirth. She would be subject to her husband. The man was sentenced to earn his livelihood from ground that was cursed with thorns and thistles. It would mean toil and sweat for him. Then at the end of life, he himself would return to dust. It should be noted here that work itself is not a curse; it is more often a blessing. It is the sorrow, toil, frustration, perspiration, and weariness connected with work that are the curse.[1]

 

1 Cor. 15:58 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Commentary— We stand firm by committing ourselves to actively serve God. How wonderful to know that no labor performed in His strength and for His glory will ever be in vain.[2]

 

Col. 3:17 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Commentary— Every activity is to be done in obedience to the Lord Jesus and is to be accompanied by the giving of thanks to God the Father through him (note the threefold reference to thanksgiving in vs 15–17). In word or deed does not refer to the liturgical practices of ‘preaching’ and ‘the Lord’s Supper’ in a context of worship, but explains the comprehensive whatever. If the rich indwelling of the word of Christ in the readers’ lives is to be shown in mutual teaching and warning, as the Colossians thankfully sing to God, then it should also show its powerful presence overall.[3]

 

1 Thess. 4:11-1211 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

Commentary— Work: Paul mentions two values of work here: (1) it gains respect and (2) it keeps us from being dependent on others. In 2 Thes. 3:6–15 work is also basic to self-respect and taking personal responsibility. And Eph. 4:28 points out that if we work we not only care for ourselves, but gain something to share with others in need. So the value of work is not found in the wealth it produces but in the personal responsibility work reflects, the respect it earns, and in the opportunities its earnings give us to do good.[4]

 

Psalms 127:1 1 Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.

Commentary— 127:1. Without divine blessing human effort is futile whether it be in the efforts of a builder or the vigilance of the watchman. A man may build a house, but never dwell in it (Deut 28:30). The watchman may patrol the city or keep his watch on the wall, but he cannot secure the place from dangers such as fire or the assault by enemies.[5]

 

Study Guide – Use whichever questions below work best for your group!

  • Read—the passages.
  • Reflect—Unpacking/going deeper
    • From the passages above, how would you describe Labor? What is it and why do we do it?
      Is our labor just efforts of our time and toil?
    • How would you say this differs from the way culture describes work?
    • What might Labor have been like in the world if sin had never entered the world?
    • Is there value in work? What does it mean to Labor in the Lord?
    • People can tend to measure their days… their lives… by what they do (their work).
      But ultimately, we are to measure our lives by the standard of Faithfulness.
      Why is this a better measurement?
    • The scriptures above tell us what we are to give our lives—our labor—and our time to and for.
      How can these passages help us to get a handle on an approach to our life and labor that’s sane and satisfying? How do they show us how we can reverse the curse?
    • Now consider the Gospel. How does it change our view of work—Labor?
    • How does the Gospel allow you to find joy in your work?
    • Read 3:17. How does single-story living help to close the gap on our labors?
    • How does community help us to have a right perspective?
    • The Gospel reverses the curse, wherever it is found…thorns are no longer to be the results of our labor…the glory of Christ and the good of others is our lasting fruit.
  • Repent
    • What is it that you need to turn away from? Do you have the wrong perspective on your labor?
    • Will you repent and confess it to the Lord?
    • Will you humble yourself, take responsibility for your part?
  • Rejoice – Reverse the curse… close the gap!

 

[1] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 36). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] Richards, L. O. (1991). The Bible reader’s companion (electronic ed., p. 771). Wheaton: Victor Books.

[3] O’Brien, P. T. (1994). Colossians. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 1274). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

[4] Richards, L. O. (1991). The Bible reader’s companion (electronic ed., p. 823). Wheaton: Victor Books.

[5] Smith, J. E. (1996). The wisdom literature and Psalms (Ps 127:1). Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co.

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