Many people discuss, think about, or acknowledge that Christians are to work unto the LORD. It is an ideal, a doctrine even embraced by our world most probably because of how great a portion of our time is given to work. If something demands a vast majority of your time, namely work, and something else demands all of your self, namely God, it is in your best interest to make the two things work together. In the development of this doctrine of work a piece is often left out, or even opposed; that piece is rest.
Rest is just as important as work. It is a part of understanding the truth about work. We rest for many reasons. First, because we need it, we simply cannot function at our highest level continuously. We rest, too, because it is enjoyable. A break from our labor is pleasing to a weary soul. We also rest, or should rest, to reflect. After God finished his work in creation he rested, looked at what he had done and was pleased for it was good. It is good for us to have a time to reflect and look back on what we have worked so hard to accomplish.
God created us to work hard. He also created us to need rest. Yes, this need for a break from work was probably very different before the Fall and the curses that resulted from it, but the Sabbath was truly instituted before sin entered. It is important to recharge in order to go back to the work that we are doing. In order to put our most pleasing effort before God we must have energy, strength, and motivation to do that. Rest is a source of this needed strength.
Perhaps where the idea of rest gets in the most trouble is in the truth that it is enjoyable. How can something so easy and great be right. We must first remember that our good God desires our best and to have enjoyment and supplies good ways for us to have enjoyment (both work and rest can fulfill this!). Rest can take on a bad view when it, like any good gift from God is perverted into sloth and apathy. But sloth and apathy are not true rest. True rest fuels us and poises us to get back into our work. True rest is not being sedentary or bingeing on sleep, rather it is whatever honorable activity recharges us. Rest is good and enjoyable; what a blessing from God.
Rest, in its necessity and also in its enjoyment should serve also as a time of reflection. In the routine of life time vanishes. There is little opportunity to think. To think about our lives and relationships with friends and family. To think about our work and how it is or isn’t honoring God. To think about the God we serve and what it even means to honor him. Rest gives us this chance. Rest provides a time of reflection and refocus, where what matters most can be placed in its proper place and what does not matter can be discarded.
Our youth office speaks often about taking a Sabbath. It needs to be talked about because of the nature of the job. There is not a clear day of rest, in fact one of the most restful days for most, Sunday, is our busiest. It is a struggle in a different way than others to set aside time for rest. It is great to be in a place that recognizes this difficulty to find, and the need for, rest. The office is run in a way where rest is found and given in the midst of a schedule that ebbs and flows and constantly changes.
It is a blessing to work in a place where rest is addressed. The youth office had a meeting with the staff about the importance of taking time away from work. Our director took the next step and put discussion into action found a place in everyone’s schedule where they could be given to rest. I have learned a lot about work and rest and the importance of each.
It is important to recognize and care for the needs of those you work with. In giving rest to its staff the youth department shows love for each other and for God. Helping those around you meet needs that God has instituted also shows a respect of God; it honors him and his Word. It is great to be a part of an office that seeks to honor God in this very real and unique way.
God commands us to rest. God has purpose to all that he does, and all that he does is good. Rest is good, it is necessary, it is fun, and it provides reflection. It is good for us to seek godly rest for ourselves and for others. Work is good and should be done to the glory of God, but rest should be done to the glory of God just the same. Let us pray that in our rest we can look back on our work and be pleased in its goodness and the way it honors our God who has given us both work and relief from it. Let us also look at our rest and be pleased that it has been used as it was intended, for our good, to the glory of God our Father.
image: freeimages/Silvia Cosimini