The Forgotten Commandment (We Need It More Than Ever)

It’s cool to be busy.

No more time for down time. Rest is overhyped.

Busyness is the new status symbol.

Being mind-numbingly devoted to our over packed schedules is what matters. Because let’s face it: if you’re not busy, you’re not productive…right?

It wasn’t always this way. There was such thing as a real day off, a pause from the throbbing rhythm of the workweek. Availability and unassigned time weren’t always so foreign.

If we look at modern Western society (and beyond), a little bit of rest is only deemed a good thing if it’s perceived to be earned, but tireless overworking is more highly praised. According to some reports, American workers leave a couple days up to a couple weeks of vacation days unused. That means we’re staying at work even when we can (and should) rest.

An Ancient Order

It started long ago, when the nation of Israel wandered aimlessly in the desert and worked daily for their food supply. God told them, “Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord” (Exodus 16:23).

Rest became a command, not just a suggestion. There was something God wanted people to learn by stepping away from work and busyness.

But now, we’re too busy to stop and consider why.

It’s easy to point fingers and assign blame. Instead, let’s look at an example of how we’re designed for work and rest: God Himself.

Jesus was an extremely busy fellow.

His attention was in high demand; people sought His attention, His healing, His affirmation, and His ideas. Because of a growing reputation and miraculous powers, it was difficult for Him to go anywhere without someone asking something from Him.

Jesus took those opportunities to heal and help those people. He often used the moments around crowds to tell them about the Kingdom of God He was ushering in, and invited people to join Him.

There were also times when Jesus took the opportunity to escape the crowds. More than a few times, especially after times of exerting energy serving people, He withdrew alone or with a few disciples, to rest and recharge.

  • He welcomed disciples back from a short-term ministry tour and invited them to enjoy respite after doing meaningful work: “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).
  • After feeding thousands of people, Jesus insisted on going “up into the hills by Himself to pray” (Mark 6:46)
  • Sometimes, Jesus took only a few of the disciples with Him to pray and be alone, while leaving the rest of the disciples to deal with accusatory religious leaders (Mark 9:2, 14).

Amidst a busy schedule of being around people who demanded so much from Him, Jesus still made it a priority to step away from His work, grow in solitude, and stay aligned with God. Perhaps that’s why His few years of ministry on earth were so powerful: because He knew His worth didn’t come from the work He did, but rather from His relationship with His God.

Our worth has never been about our work, but about a relationship.

We do our best work when we operate the way God’s made us to operate. When we strike a balance of truly refreshing rest throughout our busy, productive schedules, we are following Jesus’ example. As we do our work and ministry, let’s remember our value isn’t derived from what we accomplish, but from the God who is our source and our sustainer.

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Do you rest enough?

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