Rest In Recreation for the Lord
Do you often have this thought at the end of a tough work week: “Wow. That was a real stressful five days for me. I think I deserve the last two days for myself. I’ve earned it.” You then proceed to binge watch shows you missed, binge eat all the junk food you like, and maybe even binge play the computer games you’ve been wanting to check out.
At the end of it all you say, “Yeah! Weekend well spent! De-stressed. Back to work!”
Though there is nothing wrong with de-stressing with those activities, making them the focus of your entire weekend doesn’t really sound restful or productive. Sure, you may catch up on all the games, shows, and movies you missed, but if you end up sleeping in the wee hours of the morning because of them, rethink how you spend your rest days. God had a specific purpose for how rest days, or the Sabbath, was to be spent.
“And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” – Genesis 2:2-3 [KJV]
Ever since Creation, God already purposed the seventh day to be rest. What did rest in this context mean? It didn’t mean zero activity. It didn’t mean staying in bed the entire day and slothing about. No. It simply meant taking a break or stop from labor, or livelihood; meaning an activity that gave you income. This is further elaborated in another passage:
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” – Exodus 20:8-11 [KJV]
So no one would do compensated physical labor during the Sabbath. Instead, what was to be done? In Hebrew culture, they would celebrate this break from work by preparing dinner on Friday night and celebrating with everyone in their household. It was a time for family and, most importantly, reflection upon God’s goodness during the past days.
How do we apply this? Do we take at least 1 day off from work to be with our loved ones? Do we maximize this time as well to reflect on Who God is in our lives and His goodness to us? Do we also use this time to physically rest? These are what the Sabbath is for. As Jesus Christ Himself said,
“…‘The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.’” – Mark 2:27-28 [KJV]
We are to honor the day of rest not only because God modeled it, but because He is the Lord of the Sabbath. He created it for us so we could rest and recharge. Because knowing our human flesh, we would end up desiring to work 7 days a week to earn more money, and have no time for God, families, and even ourselves!
At this point you may be thinking, “I’m honoring the Sabbath! I don’t work. I spend time in recreation. That’s rest for me.” That’s all well and good, but are we spending it the way God wants us to? Remember, we discussed in our series about stewardship that even time is God’s, not ours. The recreational activities you do may not be sinful in general, but we have to remember this thought from Paul:
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth…Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.” – 1 Corinthians 10:23-24; 31-33 [KJV]
Ask yourself how your leisure is affecting your heart. Are you immersing yourself in media that is negative in influence? I remember watching a series where all the characters were mostly angry. After a couple of episodes, I couldn’t help but feel angry as well, even for no reason! My family members and friends noticed this. For a while I couldn’t pinpoint the source, until I stopped watching the show. We have to be mindful of our rest day activities, evaluating if they help us become Christlike or not.
Next is to ask yourself how your leisure is affecting others. There’s nothing wrong with playing video games, but to spend 8 hours in one sitting engrossed in Final Fantasy XV, GTA V, or other hip titles, while missing out on meals and healthy conversations with your loved ones is quite questionable. Same goes for watching shows/movies. There isn’t a Bible verse that says, “You shall not enjoy TV shows and movies”, but if it’s negatively affecting your character AND others around you, it might be best to either reduce the time or take it out altogether.
Lastly, we must ask ourselves how is this leisure brings us closer to Christ. Are your Sabbath activities constructive or destructive? Do they make you more like Jesus Christ or draw you further away from Him? Are you spending too much time in the movies, mall, or gimmicks, forgetting to be refreshed in God? Remember that true rest can only be found in Jesus, not the pleasures of this world.
In conclusion, let us remember the following:
- There is nothing wrong with the aforementioned leisure activities. We just need to make sure they all help us really rest and refocus on God.
- The purpose of Sabbath was to cease from physical labor (or activities that are compensated financially) in order for us to enjoy time with family and God.
- The Sabbath day is not ours. It’s the Lord’s. Therefore, we must discover how He wants us to spend it through the Bible and prayer, aside from not engaging in labor.