I love my work. Like many Americans, I pride myself on a strong work ethic. But sometimes I feel like I’m working all the time.
Instantaneous communications, nonstop connectivity and the option of working from home are all great. But they can also make us feel like we are never fully working or fully resting.
For many of us, TGIF has lost its savor.
We take on second jobs to earn extra bucks, check emails throughout the weekend and use Sunday afternoon to run errands or catch up on work.
A dozen years ago, my husband and I started a creation care ministry. It’s allowed us to meet some of the most intelligent and loving people in the world. It’s offered us ample opportunities to travel. And it’s given us a platform to speak into both the churched and non-churched culture.
And while working with my husband is one of the greatest joys of my life, it also has a dark side: We can easily find ourselves talking shop late into the night and on weekends.
Like all good things, work can become twisted. When we look for our identity in our jobs rather than in God, we can lose sight of the relationships that matter most.
The Bible is filled with admonishments to the lazy. But what does it say to a culture that finds itself working 24/7? Does God want us to enjoy the weekends?
We have only to open the scriptures to find out:
Everything created by God is good.
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer (1 Timothy 4:4-5).
God does not want us to work 24/7.
The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat (Mark 6:30-31).
God invented the weekend.
The creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work.
And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation (Genesis 2:1-3).
Rest. Every. Week.
God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them (Hebrews 4:1).
Everyone deserves some downtime (including immigrants and minimum wage earners).
You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy (Exodus 20:8-11).
Eat, drink and be merry.
I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13).
Get the party started.
On the day of your gladness also, and at your appointed feasts and at the beginnings of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings. They shall be a reminder of you before your God: I am the Lord your God” (Numbers 10:10).
Share the joy.
Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8: 10).
Refresh yourself in the great outdoors.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul (Psalm 23: 2-3).
Don’t fill your mind with garbage.[W]hatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:8).
It’s cool to cool your jets.
Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10). Or the ancient Greek (Septuagint) version: “Have leisure and know that I am God.”
You don’t need to do it all yourself.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Weekends have a purpose. They let us step back and appreciate the goodness of honest labor. They help us value every day on earth as an undeserved gift. And they put our toil into perspective, reminding us it’s God who keeps the world spinning—not us.
Yes, work hard. Yes, steward your time wisely. And then every Friday afternoon, shout with joy: This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad. (Psalm 118:24)
Or as that great oracle of my youth, Dr. Seuss, once said, “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me NOW! It’s fun to have fun but you have to know how!”
Nancy Sleeth is the author of Almost Amish and co-founder of Blessed Earth. Recognized by Newsweek and Christianity Today as one of the “50 Evangelical Women to Watch,” lives in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband Matthew. For more Sabbath resources, visit sabbathliving.org.