Michael P. Maddox, M.D.
2 By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
Genesis 2:2-3 | NASB
Our western culture seemingly knows nothing about slowing down, much less stopping. That’s considered a foolish waste of time. The “Christian work ethic” is unfortunately, in my opinion, more of a contributor to this thinking than many would like to admit. “If a man won’t work, let him not eat” is far too often now a mantra working in opposition to the Fourth Precept, what God intended as a gift. Let’s get a little context.
While preparing a lesson on the Old Testament book of Leviticus a question entered my mind: How do you teach an enslaved people to now live in freedom? After more than four hundred years of bondage to another people and culture, God needed to teach these now former slaves to live in freedom. They have no idea what that’s like … and neither do we. For their entire lives they were told when to get up, when to go to bed, what amount of productivity was required of them, to eat what was available — if not enough, oh well! They were also told which gods to worship when and for what reason — fertility, rain, fire … whatever. Anything about the God of their forefathers was, by then, folklore and fairytales to be mixed with all of the other gods — the gods of bondage. He wanted them to live in freedom with the ability to get to know and worship Him, the true liberator of all mankind, and be a model of His character for others to see. To this end, God issued the Ten Precepts. (I know they are better known as the Ten Commandments, but I have my reasons for a different usage. Indulge me please.) With careful and thoughtful reading one can see that He is giving them precepts on how to live in freedom, a gift only He can give as He is the only one who knows what true freedom is and how to live it. It is not my intention to discuss all ten but to focus for now on the fourth precept/gift.
8 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11 “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
Exodus 20:8-11 | NASB
God had done all He intended to do with His creation and He was satisfied with the result. Could He have done more? I’m sure He could as I doubt the creation we see exhausted His infinite mind and ability. No, He was just done. With the fourth precept/gift He is giving us an example of being content with all of what we’ve done with our six days of labor. Is there more we could do? Always! But we need to trust that He will stand guard over what we have done freeing us to rest because He knows that, unlike Him, we will need it. Otherwise we will hurt ourselves in the pursuit of more. He is giving us the gift to just chill for a while. Even our worship is not to be work. Your best act of worship is having the faith to chill for a day and trust that He’s got you.
Work, work, work! One more phone call, text, email, trip … you know the drill. I even had one supervisor suggest that I take my laptop on my beach vacation so as not to get behind on emails. (Silly wabbit!) Before you know it you’ll be cross-eyed, headachy, snapping at folk, too tired to sleep (or unable to stay awake), or worse comes to worst, drooling and sitting in a corner wearing a big diaper because you blew a gasket and can’t take it anymore! Then “they” will just get someone else to plug into your spot while calling you soft or not a “team player”. Don’t let them do it!
So, what, if anything, does this have to do with one’s health? Do you want to live longer and healthier with lower blood pressure, lower heart attack risk, fewer aches and pains and a more positive outlook on life? How about reducing your risk of depression? It’s doable. Take God’s gift and take a day off … on the regular. You’re free! He loves you so He’s got you, baby. And maybe, just maybe, He will replace that stroked-out slavedriver of yours with a chilled out you who will then treat others like the human beings they were created to be. Trust Him … and go fishing. It’s a health thing. It’s a faith thing.