For the past few years, I haven’t read fiction unless it was required for school. Ephesians 5 tells us to make the most of our time. From my perspective, this meant anything that I did needed to produce something for the Kingdom or grow me spiritually or else, it was pointless, or perhaps even sinful. Though I never verbally acknowledged this belief, it crept into my life. If I was to be a useful servant of Christ, surely I couldn’t spend my time reading about princes and castles in nonexistent lands!
As the result of this mindset, I based my joy on my own works. I knew that my worth and value came solely from being made in the image of God and redeemed by Christ’s work on the cross, yet I did not live in light of this truth. When I was productive, I was happy, but if I had not been productive, I was depressed. This mindset was part of my resolve to not “waste my time” on fiction books.
Recently, a friend convinced me to read the Chronicles of Narnia. In just two short hours I was halfway through The Magician’s Nephew, stopping as Queen Jadis, Cabby, Uncle Andrew, Polly, Digory, and the horse stand in awe of a magnificent sunrise in a mysterious, unknown world. Never have I been so entranced by mere words skillfully painted into one beautiful masterpiece. At that point, my bias against fiction disintegrated. How could such beauty be worthless?
We are called to use our time wisely and to do all to the glory of God. But the truth I had yet to grasp is that we can use our time wisely and glorify God by resting. What may be considered a “waste of time” can actually be rest.
What is rest?
Rest is ceasing work or movement in order to relax, refresh, or recover strength.
“By the seventh day God completed His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done.” -Genesis 2:2
Our God is a productive God. He made the universe and he sustains it. Yet on the seventh day, God rested. This seventh day was later established as a day of rest for God’s chosen people, Israel. Regardless of your views on the Sabbath, we can all agree that God allows and even encourages rest.
Yet, this seventh-day rest for Israel was to be dedicated to the Lord. This concept is in accordance with the command to do all to the glory of God. So, we can conclude that God permits rest but desires us to honor him in it.
How can we rest to the glory of God?
We all may rest in different ways. Some may watch tv or read a book. Others may sit outside in a hammock and take a nap. Still others may find activities such as baking or creating art to be relaxing. Whatever you do to rest, there are some things you should keep in mind.
1. Respect other people
Resting does not give us an excuse to throw God’s commands out the window. During our periods of rest, we still must love our neighbor. If reading a certain book or watching a certain movie causes strife between you and a fellow believer, abstain for the sake of that person.
2. Do not engage in activities which tempt you to sin
Don’t engage in activities which may harm you physically, mentally, emotionally, or most importantly, spiritually. If it tempts you to sin or damages your relationship with Christ, the temporary enjoyment is not worth the long-term cost.
3. Rest should not be an excuse for laziness
No, binge-watching your favorite show does not count as rest. TV, social media, and YouTube are fine within moderation, but personally, I find that more than an hour of these types of activities makes me feel lethargic and depressed. Chances are, binge watching or scrolling through funny cat videos for three hours straight will leave you worse off than when you started. Moderation is key.
4. Rest should refresh us so that we are better equipped for serving the Lord
If your rest does not leave you feeling strengthened, less weary, and better able to handle the tasks ahead, you did not waste your time wisely. In fact, true rest isn’t actually a waste of time; it is a temporary break meant to give you the boost you need to keep on going.
As human beings, we do need rest. We aren’t made to run continuously, indefinitely. Take a break. Set aside time in your hectic schedule to regain your energy and strength. But remember that ultimately, our goal must be to glorify God in all things, and that includes the way we rest.