Rest: Preparation for work, not laziness

Does taking time to rest just equate with watching Netflix and taking naps? Perhaps there’s more to this phrase we’re ever so familiar with. 

Feeling guilty

We all know the feeling. You’re sitting on your couch, maybe watching Netflix, trying to take a nap, or hanging out with friends, and a little voice creeps into your mind. Hey, it says in its condescending tone, don’t you have homework or something? Shouldn’t you be working?

We tend to feel guilty about times of rest. In some cases this voice is good and very necessary (ten hour Netflix binges are healthy for no one, my friend). However, there is a difference between laziness and rest. Laziness is the avoiding of responsibilities. Rest, on the other hand, is a preparation for work to come. Though it’s easy to confuse these two, take heart and know that rest is a crucial part of self-care.

The Biblical definition of rest

There is a biblical precedent for rest, set by God Himself. On the seventh day of Creation, He rested. He doesn’t need that rest, but he purposefully took time to rest to show us it is a good and necessary part of the week. In Exodus 20:8-11, He says to keep the Sabbath holy, and to not let anyone work on that day. It’s one of his staple commands for us, and yet, is one we tend to abuse more than follow.

God further engrained this aspect into His people’s very way of life. Every seven years, He commanded the Jewish people to let the land rest and to not farm it for that entire year. The purpose of this was so that the land could regain its nutrients and continue to be fruitful. Then, on the seventh cycle of the seventh year (which is either the 49th or 50th year though there’s some uncertainty over which it actually is) there was a year of Jubilee, a great celebration. The fields would rest, there would be festivities all year long, no one would work, slaves would go free, and all debt were considered paid.

There are two important principles in this practice we can look to for our own time of rest: preparation and celebration.

Rest as preparation for work

Rest prepares us for the work we will do. Just as the fields in Israel were given time to regain their nutrients, rest allows us to refresh and regain our stamina for more work to come. If you continually work without resting, eventually you will overtax yourself, which shows in what you produce. Having rested though, we can approach work renewed and replenished, and can therefore work better.

Rest and celebration are inseparable as well. When we step back from the chaos and busyness of working, we can appreciate what God is doing in our lives and the work being done. We get to see the fruits of our actions, understand the significance of them, and rejoice that they are good.

I will say it again: Rest is not bad. It’s vital, and should be a regular part of a daily and weekly routine. As college students, we can’t normally afford to take much time off of our responsibilities and studies. However, taking a half-hour or an hour every day to do something that fills you will help you in preparation for work. This could be taking a nap, watching a movie, reading a book that’s not for school, spending time with friends, listening to music, or doing a devotional. Personally, I spend an hour or so before bed reading a book, which helps me relax and enjoy the day for a bit. Figuring out what works for you is important, and making it intentional will help you in that preparation and celebration.


Danielle Crowley is a staff writer for The Daily Runner.