5 Reasons Why You Absolutely Must Take A Day Off Every Week

Saturday, May 24, 2014

time to relax
In the very beginning of the Bible, as God was creating Adam and Eve, the book of Genesis tells us that he made man "in his own image." He created humanity to be a reflection of his own character and nature. We also read that after six days of the most intense, carefully crafted artwork ever created, God rested. Now jump over to Exodus 20. When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments he tells him, 8“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." It was God's nature to rest and he has created in us a reflection of that same nature. He was dead serious about this. If anyone violated this commandment they were to be put to death. Sounds extreme, doesn't it. As I will attempt to explain, this is not due to a God that is angry or vindictive. No! The reason why he makes such an issue about a day of rest is because when we don't follow his design, it creates chaos and dysfunction in our lives. Never in the history of America have we been faced with such turmoil and dysfunction in our culture. The divorce rate is astronomical. The prescription drug industry profits are in the billions every year. Suicides are rising. Violence and crime are at an all-time high. I wonder if there is a connection between these things and our failure to rest. I think it is worth looking at. Let me give you five reasons why you absolutely must take a day off every week.

#1 - This one is rather simple and it all boils down to "because God said so." When God commands something of us he has a very good reason and we need to listen. It has nothing to do with him getting a kick out of telling us what to do. It is all about his passion for his people to be healthy and whole. If you are not taking a regular day off to rest, you need to start NOW.

#2 - Your health depends on it. Not observing a regular, weekly day off can kill you. Your body has been created with a need for regular rest. It is embedded in your DNA. We can't live contrary to how our bodies are designed and expect everything to just be okay. If you are not taking a regular day off to rest, you are headed for a permanent one. Okay, I will spell it out for you - you are going to have a heart attack or a stroke. If you are not taking a regular day to rest, you need to start NOW.

#3 - This is where it starts getting spiritual. When you take a day of rest, you are honoring the Lord. Think of the Sabbath as tithing with your time and schedule. By taking a regular, weekly day of rest, you are giving back to the Lord a portion of the time he has blessed you with. He then will protect the other six days and increase your productivity, time, schedule, etc. because you are honoring him with your time. When we fail to  honor him with one day we can't expect him to bless us during the other six. If you are not taking a regular day off to rest, you are dishonoring the Lord. You need to start NOW.

#4 - This one is for Pastors. We should be setting the example and leading the way on this. Sadly, Pastors have a reputation for never taking a day off. Not only are we setting a bad example for those entrusted to our care, we make it worse by loading them with unending things that they need to add to their already bulging schedules. I'm not saying that our people shouldn't get involved in the ministry of the church. They absolutely should. However, we need to seriously ask ourselves if all of the activity we are creating is actually building the Kingdom, or just filling our dysfunctional need to keep busy. If you are struggling to keep up with your counseling load, that may be a sign that you need to slow down and learn to rest. Pastors, if you are not taking a regular day off to rest, you need to start NOW. The health of your church depends on it.

#5 - It keeps you humble. I have observed and have learned from experience that if we are truly honest with ourselves, when we refuse to take a day off and feel we have so much to do that we can't afford it, we are just full of pride. No one is that important! A workaholic's biggest problem is not a lack of time, training, help, or organizational skills, but a false sense of importance. To think that the world hinges on whether you take that phone call right now, put in one more hour, or take on that project that no one else will take is ludicrous. If that is true then you can't afford that job and you need to get out now while you still have your sanity and health intact. If you are not taking a regular day off to rest you need to get over yourself and start NOW.

God knew what he was doing back in the Garden of Eden when he first created man. For years I was the opposite of everything I just wrote about. There are times when I still get off track and he has to remind me of my need to rest. I do need to clarify that the Sabbath is not about going to church, a specific day of the week, or taking a day and doing absolutely nothing. It may includes those, but it is about a lifestyle of setting aside a dedicated day to the Lord to honor him by resting and allowing him to renew us. Don't become rigid and legalistic. If you have one of those weeks, and we all have them, don't freak out that God is going to get mad and punish you. He understands and his grace will be there for you. Purposefully plan some time before next week begins to take some time to rest. Meditate on these words from Jesus in Matthew 11:28 - "Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest."

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