by St. John Chrysostom
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till and to keep it (Gen. 2:15).
'To till.' What was lacking in Paradise? And even if a tiller was needed, where was the plow? Where were the other implements of agriculture? The "tilling" [or "working"] of God consisted in tilling and keeping the commandment of God, remaining faithful to the commandment... Just as to believe in Christ is the work of God (John 6:29), so also it was a work to believe the commandment that if he touched (the forbidden tree) he would die, and if he did not touch it, he would live. The work was the keeping of the spiritual words ... "To till and to keep it," it is said. To keep it from whom? There were no thieves, no passersby, no one of evil intent. To keep from whom? To keep it for oneself; not to lose it by transgressing the commandment; to keep Paradise for oneself, observing the commandment.
by St. Theodoret of Cyrus, quoted in Genesis, Creation, and Early Man: The Orthodox Christian Vision, by Fr. Seraphim Rose, edited by the Hieromonk Damascene, p. 212.
Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Gen. 2:7)
When we hear in the account of Moses that God took dust from the earth and formed man, and we seek out the meaning of this utterance, we discover in it the special good disposition of God towards the human race. For the great Prophet notes, in his description of the creation, that God created all the other creatures by His word, while man He created with His own hands ... We do not say that the Divinity has hands ... but we affirm that every one of these expressions indicates a greater care of God's part for man than for the other creatures.
by St. Macarius the Great
From Genesis, Creation, and Early Man: The Orthodox Christian Vision, by Fr. Seraphim Rose, edited by Hieromonk Damascene, 2nd ed., p. 292.
I always remember that it was Abel who offered a sacrifice to God of the fat and firstlings of his flock, while Cain offered gifts of the fruits of the earth, but not of the firstfruits. It is said: 'And God looked upon Abel and his gifts, but Cain and his sacrifices He regarded not' (Gen. 4:4-5). This teaches us that everything that is done in fear and in faith is pleasing to God, and not that which is done for display and without love.