A balance between work and rest

Last updated on April 19, 2021

“Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant woman, and the alien, may be refreshed.” (Exodus 23:12)

As long as humanity exists, work has been part of daily life. Most people simply have to work to earn a living, but work also can give satisfaction. It can be a blessing and a pleasure. At the same time, work can be exhausting and hard. Some people experience their job as a continual struggle. They long for rest.

These two sides of work and rest are both present in the Bible. We will read more about them the coming days. The first point to note is that God explicitly commands his people to keep a healthy balance between work and rest. Nowadays, many people seem to live in order to work, not work in order to live. Others avoid working as much as they can. However, God commanded the people of Israel: “Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest”. Work is good, but we also need rest so that we “may be refreshed”. Keeping that balance is not always easy. In Israel’s history, we see how they repeatedly disobeyed God’s commandment about the weekly day of rest (called the Sabbath) (see e.g. Ezekiel 20:13, 22:8). But if we keep that balance, we will be blessed (see Isaiah 56:1-2).

Which role does ‘work’ play in your life?

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