Posted by: Brian Musser | May 16, 2014

Work and Rest

Work-Ship – Week Six:  The Limits of Work – Day Thirty-Seven:  Work and Rest

Wait a minute!  Work is good and rest is good.  How do I decide between the two?  It would be easier if one was evil and the other was good.  Most of the time we don’t have problems knowing between right and wrong,  (Although we may have some difficulty doing what we know is right.)  but we have real issues figuring out what to do when confronted with two or more good choices.  Within Christianity we have often viewed on of these (work or rest) exalted into prominence over the other.  In the exaggerated idea of the Protestant Work Ethic diligence becomes the ultimate “christian” virtue and work is elevated at the expense of rest.  In some monastic traditions leisure’s ability to provide space for proper worship was valued most and rest is lauded as work is denigrated.  So often we are unbalanced.  How do we balance between work and rest?  How do I know when to work and when to rest?

Let’s take a moment to review the Scripture from yesterday.

Genesis 2:2 – 3 (NIV)  By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.  Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Rest comes after work.  God works and then rests.  Rest is meaningful in the context of previous work.  Rest after work allows us to place work in the proper meaningful context.  Both rest and work are necessary for either to be understood as significant.

God rests from work.  God rests and makes the seventh day holy in response to His completed work.  Work can produce worship in us and others.  Rest gives us the opportunity to experience this worship.

Mark 2:23-28 (NIV)
One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”
Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Holy rest means nothing without persons to experience its holiness.  Rest is meaningful in the context of work.  Rest is only meaningful when participated in consciously.  Rest is meaningful when it is a conscious decision of the will.  The Sabbath was made for us to rest, worship and put our work into perspective.  We need the Sabbath.  The Sabbath does not need us.

As you think about the relationship between work and rest in your life allow me to ask a few questions.

  • Do you take the time after work to place your work in perspective?  After a week?  After a day?  After a project?  After a lifetime?
  • If work can produce worship within us and others as we display the image of God, do you ever take the time to look for that image?
  • When was the last time you intentionally rest?
  • In your day to day life how often is conscious intentional rest prevented or inhibited by exhaustion?

Tomorrow, I will highlight some tips about how to rest well.

 

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