Take A Day Off and Rest!

May 10, 2024 | Dennis Heppner, Lifestyle

day off and rest - featured

Everywhere I go, I interact with a lot of people who do not rest. This is especially true of pastors, church leaders, and workers. This principle comes from one of the Ten Commandments, but it is one of the most ignored.

We are horrified by adultery, murder, lying, stealing, etc. All of these are found in the same passage of Scripture as the commandment to keep the “sabbath.” So how can we ignore this one? God’s command to keep the Sabbath holy and do no work on it is the most detailed of all the 10 commandments. In the NKJV there are 99 words. The only other commandment close to this in words is “Do not make idols” with 88 words.

Rest is God’s idea. Sabbath is the 7th day of the week, and in Jewish tradition, “Shabbat” begins Friday night and ends 24 hours later. God marked it as “holy.” No other day was called holy. No work was to be done, not even cooking. Everyone was to rest — no exceptions.

The Sabbath was designed by God for us. God Himself took a sabbath after creating the world. “He rested on the 7th day.” His directive was for us to rest from human responsibilities and focus on worship and God.

The apostle Paul said we should not esteem any day about the other. Every day was to be lived for the Lord. But that phrase does not mean that the purpose of the sabbath rest has been eliminated by the cross of Jesus. The New Testament church did not forget the Sabbath but rather began to rest and meet together to worship on Sunday, the first day of the week, because that was the day Jesus rose from the dead.

Some believe in this being a literal day — every Saturday. We have left the times of law and now celebrate the times of grace after the resurrection, but the principle of the sabbath remains the same.

The Sabbath was designed by God for us. God Himself took a sabbath after creating the world.

In our busy lives, we have a problem organizing our lives around specific days. Many people have occupations that require shift work. Some have irregular days off. Some work every weekend and get a Tuesday or a Thursday or some other day off.

Yet the principle of sabbath rest remains necessary. We need 24 hours of rest! We should include worship by participating in corporate worship, and if this is not possible, spend time in personal worship which does bring rest.

A recent American study found that a record 768 million vacation days went unused in 2018, with 55 percent of workers reporting they didn’t take all the paid time off their job offered.

In 2018, the average American earned 23.9 days of paid time off but took only 17.4 days, according to the data. The total value of forfeited vacation days was estimated at $65.5 billion — money that workers, in effect, donated to their employers.

A worldwide study found that long working hours were linked to over 745,000 deaths in 2016 from stroke and heart disease — a 29 percent increase since 2000 in deaths linked to overwork.
Chronic overwork and stress can also lead to less deadly, but still very disruptive, health problems. A lot of people have concerns with headaches or back pain related to stress or sitting at a computer all day. Stress often does exacerbate, and is related to, many health conditions.

The benefits of taking time away from work apply not just to longer breaks like vacations, but to days and extended hours off during the week, and even short breaks throughout the workday.
I could go on and on here with statistics and studies worldwide. I’m just making a point that we were made for hard work and then a period of absolute rest. A person who does not take regular, lengthy rest only brings trouble upon themselves, physically, mentally emotionally, and relationally. It was God’s idea and nothing God does is without purpose.

There are so many Christian pastors and workers who do not take a day off weekly. I don’t believe they will stand the long haul of ministry. Burnout is in their future, just give it time. Why? Because it violates God’s command and His principle of rest.

I’ll end this with a personal note. I remember many years ago preparing a series of teachings on the book of Exodus and the 10 commandments. When I came to the commandment about keeping the Sabbath holy, I came under conviction. I realized that I couldn’t teach something I didn’t practice. I repented and changed my ways.

In the past when I have pushed too hard with not enough rest or sleep or time away from the office, I have had stress-related health problems like headaches and blood pressure imbalance. You and I were made for rest as well as work. Obey the commandment of keeping the sabbath and watch your life come into order and be more productive!

Dennis Heppner grew up in Canada and was called to ministry as a young boy. Dennis and his wife Denie, who was also called to missions as a child, pastored 4 churches in Canada, but in 1987 the door opened to come to the Philippines as missionaries. They brought their 4 eldest children with them and the kids grew up here. In 2006 they adopted Emma Rose, a special Filipino treasure and a gift from God to their family.

Dennis has been a missionary evangelist in Asia for 25 years. He was the director of LIFESCHOOLS of ministry and pastored 3 churches in the early years of his ministry based in the Philippines. He is currently the founder and President of Developing Effective Leaders (DEL), superintendent of Church of God West Asia, and the founding and lead Pastor of the vibrant, growing Church of God Makati.

Dennis and Denie and their whole family, including Josh and Melody who live in Canada, are committed to missions, leadership, and the call of Christ.

Read more of Ptr. Dennis’ articles HERE!

Featured Image by jcomp on Freepik

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