Distorting the gift of rest

Distorting the gift of rest

Rest is a wonderful gift from God, as the previous blog post explained. God has been so gracious to his people to set up our lives with a rhythm that includes rest as well as work. It is a reminder of his goodness and our limitations and helps prevent us relying on ourselves too heavily.

Like with all good gifts of God, sinful people can corrupt the gift of rest (as in Romans 1:21). We can either reject the gift altogether or use it in a way that is selfish and damaging to us. Let’s see how this can happen.

  1. We can live for rest and entertainment rather than having a godly pattern of work and rest.

We are an entertainment generation. So many people say that they work for the weekend; in other words, they only work to make money, and their ‘real life’ is when they are free to do what they want to do. In an age where so many churches struggle to see people attend services and Bible studies regularly, Netflix consumption is growing dramatically. Anything to do with tourism and overseas holidays is a growth industry as more and more people seek to explore the world and have different, new experiences.

In addition, so many dream of an early retirement, where they have enough money to not work. This retirement is not usually used to serve others but to live in a way that focusses on rest and entertainment, only serving themselves.

The Biblical issue with the rise of rest and entertainment as a focus of our lives is that God didn’t set it up that way. The Biblical pattern has six times as much work as it does rest! Six times! That means work is not a bad thing to be endured, but a key part of God’s plan for our lives. Whether paid or not, God made us to be productive in his world. That could be paid work, or raising a family, or volunteering in some way. If we ignore the gift of work and only live for rest, we are distorting the pattern God set up.

A practical outcome of this is that those who live for rest and entertainment usually don’t end up satisfied. It seems like the ideal life, but it doesn’t last. We need new experiences, new adventures, new Netflix shows, new countries to visit. It seems God knew what he was doing when he gave us rest and limited it rather than made it a focus of our lives.

  • We can live for work and reject God’s good gift of rest.

Like with all things, we can distort it in the other direction too. It is possible to focus on our work to such an extent that we don’t see the need to work. Many in our world are workaholics. Rest is something that will be done later, but now work matters more. We might feel that we need to sleep less because otherwise our most important work will not get done.

It is possible to overemphasize rest, but also possible to ignore it. We need sleep or our efficiency and mood drop down. We need holidays or we get stressed and overworked. God made us to be limited people. If we try to act like superhumans, it will catch up with us. There is a time to rest and trust God; however important our job is, we need to be reminded that God is in control and we are not.

Rest is a wonderful gift. Don’t be afraid to rest! And don’t think rest is all there is! Like in so many other things, God has set up a healthy balance in this area. Don’t think we know better than God does.