Productivity has to do with work—specifically being more effective and efficient in getting work done. What we may sometimes forget, however, is the ultimate reason for which Christians should try and be productive in our work. We should be productive in our work because we were made in the image of a productive God. The book of Genesis demonstrates this profound reality.
The Bible throughout pictures God as a working God. Which means by being productive in our work we don’t just derive more satisfaction from our labors, we actually do honor to the God who made us in His likeness. Because God is a productive God.
A Productive God
The Scriptures demonstrate that God is productive. In John 5:17 our Lord said, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” He is working. His work of sustaining the universe never ceases. And He’s been working since the very beginning.
In one week God created all that there is. And He did it really, really well. His skill and productivity in this effort is plain to all. By His work of creation the world was filled with all manner of praiseworthy evidence that our God is a skilled and productive worker. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
If creating a whole world in 6 days isn’t evidence that God is productive, I don’t know what is!
God is a productive worker. It makes sense, therefore, that He would create man to be productive workers, too. And we see that this is precisely the case. Our productive God made a productive people, because He made us in His image (Genesis 1:27–28).
A Productive People
Immediately after being created mankind was charged with ruling over the Earth. We were commanded to be fruitful and multiply and to have dominion over all the creatures.
In fact, the intention for man to work and cultivate the ground was there even before man was made. Genesis 2:5 speaks of a time when “there was no man to work the ground.” There was a field to be farmed but no man to do the work yet. But that situation didn’t last long. After making the garden, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15).
As part of his work of ruling over all the animals man was given another job, he was tasked with naming the animals (Genesis 2:19–20a). But God gave work to the woman too. Eve, who was also made in the image of God (Genesis 1:28), was created to be a helper to Adam (2:20b–23). But have you ever asked your self what Eve as helping with?
The work, of course!
Mankind, both male and female, were created to glorify God by doing work, even as God in whose image they were created does work. And we do work well when we do it productively, when we are wise in how we steward our resources, when we are efficient and effective in how we apply ourselves to the task.
From the beginning this was the plan and it has never changed. We were designed to worship and glorify God by praising Him for His work, and imitating Him in ours. We have the tremendous privilege of rendering all our works unto Him as an act of praise and service. Man was made to be productive, because we serve a productive God.
A Productive Life
We might be tempted to complain that, “sure being productive work was great for Adam and Eve, before sin brought the curse, and curse brought thistles and thorns to our work!” And that’s true, just keep reading on to Genesis chapter 3. But though man’s sin brought the curse and made work more toilsome, nevertheless, we are tasked with continuing to be productive in our labors. In fact, the curse makes productivity more necessary.
When God cursed the ground, and made work toilsome and frustrating. “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread,” (Genesis 3:19a). This is one of the reasons we even need to give focused attention to productivity in our work. Daily, as we work we are fighting to hold back the tides of chaos and entropy. With the machete of wisdom we must hack through thickets of thistles and thorns which ever creep up to entangle our work.
The curse makes productivity necessary, but the fact that we are image-bearers makes it glorious.
As image-bearers of God, when we work well, when we are productive, we honor our productive God. Likewise, when we fail to be productive, we dishonor God. Because God is not only a worker, He is an excellent worker. He is everything we wish were as workers—creative, effective, passionate.
John Piper puts it well when he writes, “Aimless, unproductive Christians contradict the creative, purposeful, powerful, merciful God we love” (Don’t Waste Your Life).
So let’s choose to honor God in our work today by being productive even as He is productive. After all, we are made in the image of a productive God.