Work and Rest

The passage that comes to mind when I think of neglecting to rest is Luke 10:38-42 about Jesus going to Martha’s home. Martha was worried about all the tasks that needed to be completed, while Mary was focused on Jesus. Jesus told Martha that she was anxious and troubled about many things, but the only thing that was needed was to be in His presence. I believe our culture resembles Martha when we need to resemble more of Mary. We need to slow down and find Jesus, and take the time to rest.

God knows us well, knows our tendencies and our weaknesses, God knew we need help developing a healthy balance of work and rest. And so, God gives us several examples of how important it is to develop a healthy work-rest balance in the bible.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth.” Genesis 1:26 God creates people with a job in mind: responsibility over creation. Both the fact that people are created in God’s image and the immensity of the task he entrusts to them prove that God intends his people to work. Similarly, he intends his people to rest, after the pattern he models on the seventh day of creation (Genesis 2:2).

Life is more like a number of activities that compete for our attention. We are not made to work constantly. When we live at a busy pace, rest is the chance for us to rejuvenate and avoid burnout. But it goes beyond that. Rather than simply recharging us so we can tackle our work week, rest can change how we fundamentally view our lives. Rest gives us the ability to refocus. Rest is a source of refreshment.

As good as work is, as much as it provides not only for our needs, but the needs of others the common good, we need rest as well. In fact, God desires that we rest. He created work and He also created rest into the very fabric of creation.

Work is still noble and it still brings joy, but because of sin it is also beset with challenges and difficulties. The fall in the garden makes work exhausting, and, the deeper significance of rest established in creation is overshadowed by people’s physical need for rest.

The rhythm of work and rest is for everyone as part of our created nature. Overwork or underwork violates that nature and leads to breakdown. To rest is actually the way to enjoy and honor the goodness of God’s creation and our own. To violate the rhythm of work and rest (in either direction) leads to chaos in our life and in the world around us. There is a time to work and a time to rest.

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