What do work and rest have to do with one’s relationship with God? What one needs to understand is that work is not an evil that came upon man with the fall. It is not a curse that was cast upon us and something we must do now. Scripture is noticeably clear that work is what man was created for. In Genesis, one reads, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (English Standard Version 2:15). One also reads in Genesis that “on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done” (Gen. 2:2). This seems to indicate that there is a cycle of work and rest that God has placed into the world.
As beings that were created for work, work is something that humanity is to do. Yet, this work is not to just be endured. No, it is to be done with joy since it is from God for humanity. The apostle Paul stated that if one does not work, he is not to eat (2 Thess. 3:10). He also wrote that all work is to be done as unto the Lord (Titus 3:23). This same Paul also wrote, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). It seems to be clear from Scripture that work, and rest are things to be done for the glory of God and as what all humanity is to do.
Again, work is not an evil. Tim Keller rightly wrote, “Work was not a necessary evil that came into the picture later or something human beings were created to do but that was beneath the great God himself” (Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work 34-35). He further states, “work was part of paradise… Work did not come in after a golden age of leisure. It was part of God’s perfect design for human life” (36). This is what all humanity was created to do. The man placed in the garden to tend and keep it, along with the command of subduing the earth, are all directed at this. God worked and created humanity in His image. This means that work is as much a part of the DNA of humanity as their familial DNA is. It is what all were created to do. It is something that we share with God the Father. This is something all inside long to do because it is their intended creation. Tim Keller stated, “You will not have a meaningful life without work” (40). This does not mean that work is everything and the only thing. It just means that work is so much a part of humanity that without it, one is incomplete.
Keller does not end the sentence about work there though. He goes on and states, “but you cannot say that your work is the meaning of your life. If you make any work the purpose of your life…you create an idol that rivals God” (40). Work is part of our connection to God, but it is not the only connection. It is a part of the whole, in other words. Rest is also very prominent in humanity’s relationship to God.
After all, God rested on the seventh day. He has made a design for humanity to follow by this. God has stated, “Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest” and “Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord” (Ex. 23:12; 31:15). Rest is holy to the Lord. It is a required point from Him. Back to what the apostle Paul wrote, everything we do is to be done to the glory of the Lord (1 Cor. 10:31). Everything includes rest. God gave this command and rested the seventh day Himself as an example of what humanity is to do. It is a gift, just as work is a gift.
When one works and rests as the Lord prescribes and they do it all unto Him, they will find true value in all they do. Aaron Winter nails what our rest is, “Rest is found in God, a devoting time to Him, acknowledging that our purpose is to be recharged in Him” (Work and Rest, www.verbalink.com. 6). God gifted us with work and rest. It is up to us to utilize them and enjoy them correctly so we can be drawn to Him more closely. In all of this, we image God in all we do here, if one fully seeks to image Him rightly, and have a solid relationship with Him, they must work with joy and rest with joy because this is what we were created for.