Rest is something that God modeled for His creation. Genesis 2:2-3 tells us, “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” One may ponder, “What does it mean that God rested?” “ Did God need rest?” As Pastor Travis Agnew shared with us, “God did not need rest, but He knows we need rest.” As A.J. Swoboda says, “Humans were made to rest.” Therefore, he modeled for us and set aside a day for rest. Additionally, “Steve Farrar writes, “The Lord introduced the original concept of the Sabbath at the very beginning. God created the world in six days- and then rested on the seventh…On the sixth day, when God created Adam, His work of creation was complete. When day seven rolled around, He rested. God the Father was teaching Adam a lesson by His own example” (Steve Farrar).
The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology describes the Sabbath as, “The seventh day of the week in which God ceased from his work of creation and declared the day blessed and holy (Gen. 2:1-3)…a day set apart for God and for rest.” Additionally, the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary says that Sabbath is a “Day of rest, considered holy to God by His rest on the seventh day after creation and viewed as a sign of the covenant relation between God and His people and of the eternal rest He has promised them.” Further, when one exams the word “sabbath” in the Old Testament, you will find that it means “to cease” or “desist” (Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary). Essentially, it is a time set aside to rest, reflect, enjoy relationships, and enjoy God. It is also a time to trust in His provisions for our lives.
Rest and Work
Work and rest are both interrelated. Due to that, believers have an opportunity to honor God with their work and rest. For instance, one of the best things that believers can do is model a healthy work ethic. Meaning, view and perform our work as unto the Lord. One way to do this is to envision our work, no matter the vocation, as an act of worship to God. Therefore, our attitudes and behavior while at work matter. It is a reflection of our faith and relationship with Christ.
There can be no doubt; our world is consumed with the temptation to overwork. Pastor Travis Agnew challenges us to view our work and our rest through the lens of Scripture and not culture. Not only does he challenge us, but he cautions us to the unhealthiness of being a workaholic or sluggard. For example, overworking can lead to emotional and physical problems, which directly affect one’s spiritual life. One cannot underestimate the amount of time given to our work. Some people overextend their work hours to achieve status or to have the opportunity to be successful. Essentially, their inner drive and motivation push them to [possibly] overwork. It must be stated, however, working hard is not the problem. The damage is done when one overworks or overextends themselves over a long period without proper rest.
In comparison, some don’t work hard or give very little to their work. They are simply sluggards. They choose not to be motivated or work hard at the opportunity presented to them. In essence, they sit back and waste the gift that God has given them. In truth, they are not honoring God in being lazy. Similarly, others may “have” to overwork to keep their jobs. They are not necessarily workaholics or sluggards, just trying to do their best at their vocations. They may even feel they are just “hanging on by a thread.” They think they work hard but are in dire need of some rest. One may even think that they need an opportunity to simply sit and pray but cannot seem to find any time. In this regard, Steve Farrar says, “Overloaded people are so busy that they sometimes go days and weeks without ever feeding on Christ in His Word. That’s why such people tend to be spiritually malnourished. The reason they’re overloaded is that they don’t take in the daily sustenance they need to keep themselves going.”
Both of these examples, namely, the workaholic and sluggard, are not God-honoring or healthy. Finding a proper rhythm to work and rest is difficult but essential. Regardless of the reason, our world has created an environment that downplays a true sabbath. For believers, we should set a proper work ethic for others to show them that we trust God’s Word and in His provisions.
There are some practical steps one can take to make sure they are honoring God and getting rest. For starters, a person may need to take a hard look at their calendar to make sure they schedule a quiet time with God. This means a person will look through both a daily and monthly calendar to see the required large and small tasks. Then, that person will prioritize those things that best honor God, perform a proper work ethic, meet familial needs, and ensure enough time for rest.
Scheduling, then, is an essential part of “protecting” not only time with God but also getting proper rest. For example, planning some time outdoors, without one’s mobile device, with God and family is a great way to enjoy some rest. Not only that, but it is also a great way to enjoy God’s creation. Pastor Travis Agnew enjoys spending some time resting outside, all the while enjoying all that God created. One thing to keep in mind, as Pastor Travis Agnew says, is that if your work is outside most of the day, it may not be the best place for you to take some time of rest. A person has to find a place, and in this day and time even schedule it, in an environment that will encourage rest.
In conclusion, a person must prioritize their time with God. It is vital to our relationship and growth with Him. Second, one must look hard at their schedule and might even have to plan “rest” to protect themselves with all their busy tasks. Then, one will need to execute those plans to get the rest that God intended. This is something that is not done just once; instead becomes a rhythm and lifestyle. In the end, if we work hard and rest as God intended, He receives the glory from it all. It was His design and purposes from the beginning.