What God Says About Work & Rest

Written By: Billy Creech


April 19, 2020

Picture this: You’re in a stadium full of people. One side shouts out, “Work hard!” The expected response comes from the other side, “Play hard!”

Work hard!

Play hard!

Work hard! Work hard! WORK HARD! WORK HARD!

Maybe it’s just me, but I think this tends to be our pattern. We begin with the intention of having healthy rhythms in our lives and “work-life balance,” yet, it is all too easy to find work piling up around us. This is true regardless of the setting. There seems to be a constant drive to achieve, build, organize, and simply do more.

As followers of Jesus, we know God’s ways are perfect (Psalm 18:30). This includes the rhythms of life. Can I be brutally honest here? We stink at resting. We fall short when it comes to remembering the importance of the Sabbath. The biggest hurdle for us is not only being disciplined in resting but also recognizing the purpose of our lives.

Let’s take a look at Genesis 1:28-31 for insight:

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day.

As you read, I hope the phrase, “I have given you…” jumped off the page. Did you notice in verse 31 that God saw everything HE HAD MADE? This is about God. It has always been about him. He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together (Colossians 1:17). God gave us space and time to join in with all of creation in our worship to him. But don’t skip the start of the next chapter.

Genesis 2:1–3 says,

Thus, the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 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. 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.

Again, notice in verse 2 how God did all of the work of creation. Then, in verse 3, God blessed and made holy the seventh day as he rested. Work is a wonderful thing. Being productive feels good. But don’t forget that a holy part of work is rest.

It is easy to recognize the importance of rest when we look at sports and entertainment. A Tigers starting pitcher rests 3-5 days between starts. Without the line change in the NHL, players would get much too tired, and mistakes would overtake the team. NFL teams rest six days between games. Entertainers face the same reality. It’s not uncommon for a tour to be canceled because the pace is too much.

What does it look like to pause? Besides taking one day per week to rest, one thing I recommend is taking a quarterly spiritual retreat. Maybe you spend the day in the woods, by the water, or in a coffee shop. It’s a time for you to retreat with songs of praise, your Bible, and maybe something to write with.

This time is meant to give you a place of worship. It allows you to recognize who God is, the work he has done, the work he is doing, and the work you are trusting him to do. A spiritual retreat, like the sabbath, gives you a place of rest where you can reflect. You can celebrate the work you have done for his glory. Maybe it will serve as a retooling time to identify the areas that have been draining you.

Certainly, it will allow you to balance your hard work with some holy rest.