God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ ”
My friend Paul worked hard for decades, achieving considerable success as a leader in education and business. Finally, Paul retired with the hope of enjoying the benefits of the “good life” he had earned through his considerable efforts. In particular, he looked forward to playing lots of golf. That’s exactly what Paul did. Soon he became a superior golfer, winning dozens of tournaments. But Paul was not happy in the way he had expected. Though he had ample time for golf and relaxation, he was not fulfilled. So Paul decided to go back to work, taking up real estate as a new profession. He wanted to get back to making a difference in the world beyond making birdies and accumulating golf trophies. He loved the idea of helping people find just the right house for their needs.
Though his details are distinctive, Paul’s experience isn’t that unusual. Nor is it particularly surprising when we consider Genesis 1:28. In verses 26-27, God determined to make human beings in his own image. After creating humankind as male and female, “God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.’ ” We were not created merely to enjoy the goodness of creation. Nor were we made mainly to play our favorite game, whether it be golf, Monopoly, or Minecraft. Rather, we were created so that we might be fruitful. To put it more generally, you and I were made to make a difference in the world around us.
This does not mean that we must always engage in full-time work, of course. Nor does it mean we must be paid if our difference is to matter. Some of the most difference-making labor does not include compensation, whether it’s doing pro bono legal work, building a home with Habitat for Humanity, or changing diapers. But, whether we are paid or not, we were created to contribute to the goodness of the world, to live fruitful lives, difference-making lives.
In tomorrow’s Life for Leaders devotion, I’ll examine more carefully what it means to be fruitful. “Making a difference” is a very loose paraphrase, I admit. Nevertheless, Genesis 1:28 shows that we were made to contribute to the world, to add value to creation through our efforts. If we shape our lives by this truth, we will live more meaningfully and, indeed, more fruitfully.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
When you think of living fruitfully, what comes to mind?
In what ways is your life bearing good fruit?
Are you wishing you could make more of a difference in the world? Why or why not?
How might you bear good fruit through your work today?
Gracious God, thank you for creating us with the capacity to be fruitful. Thank you for choosing us as your partners in the business of stewarding your creation. Help us to understand how we can live fruitfully, making the difference you have determined for us.
This very day, Lord, may I make a difference in this world, living faithfully so as to honor your intentions for my life. Amen.
P.S. While Mark is on vacation for two weeks in August, we are running “greatest hits” devotions from the past year. New devotions will return on August 26. This devotional was originally published on May 5, 2015.