“Woohoo! It’s Monday again. . . and I’m all ready for a week of fruitful labour!”
Honestly? you may wonder. Can any sane person say this?
You would be perfectly justified to think this way. It can be hard to find meaning and satisfaction in our labour as we face all kinds of challenges at work.
Covid-19 has made this even worse, exacerbating the mental stress we face at work. According to one recent report, 7 in 10 employees said they felt more stressed, possibly due to the blurring of work-life boundaries resulting from work-from-home arrangements, as well as greater job uncertainty. Most of us will more likely be found saying: “Oh, no, it’s Monday, and I have to drag myself to work again. The weekend seems so short!”
When work-from-home arrangements were first started in April 2020 to help contain the spread of Covid-19, I adjusted well. In fact, I was even thankful for it—I was able to remain productive, and enjoyed having more time for rest and leisure from the time saved on travelling.
But after many months of working at home, I began to look forward to going back to the office again. I felt that by physically leaving the house, it would provide a clearer demarcation between home and work. Now, with the work-from-home arrangement stretching on, and the lines between work and life blurred, I find I need more self-discipline to ensure that I don’t underwork—and perhaps, more importantly, don’t overwork.
I found myself asking: Is there a biblical perspective of work that we can consider as Christians? What does God’s Word have to say about work-life balance?
Getting A Right Perspective of Work
Going back to the very beginning of the creation story, I’ve found an interesting perspective of work. Genesis 1:1 says: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” In these few words, we see God at work as He brings an entire universe into existence. And we can conclude that work is good, because God is good and does no evil.
Interestingly, God also created man for work. He “took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). One of Adam’s main responsibilities was to be a caretaker, and to provide for the family. I believe it is the same for us today: we work to provide a roof over our heads, clothes to wear, and food for our loved ones. Work is God’s gift to mankind.
Getting A Right Rhythm of Work
So, then, how can we do our work? We can look to God as our model.
God never works half-heartedly. For 6 days, He engaged himself fully in creative work, and on the seventh day, He rested (Genesis 2:2).
This is a good rhythm of work and rest to follow: we work hard, employing our gifts and talents to get the job done. Then, we set aside time for rest.
Rest is important, yet it is something many of us tend to neglect. While God wants us to work hard, He has also put a limit to our working hours. The God who commands us to work also commands us to rest (Exodus 20:9-10). He’s even showed us how to rest in two ways:
1. Nightly rest: First, God has limited the number of working hours each day—by marking our day into daytime and nighttime. As Psalms 104:19-23 reminds us: “He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. You bring darkness, it becomes night . . . The sun rises . . . Then people go out to their work, to their labour until evening.” Doctors today recommend that we sleep 7 to 9 hours a night to maintain our physical and mental health.
2. Weekly rest: After working 6 days, God designated a full day of rest (Exodus 20:8-11) by giving the Sabbath to the Jews. Our work week today may look different: for most of us, Saturday and Sunday are our days of rest. But whichever days we are off duty, we can try to follow God’s weekly rhythm of work and rest.
Rest helps us to recharge and recover our strength—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It gives us time to enjoy God’s presence and to celebrate His work in our lives.
Rest is not an optional luxury; God commands us to take a day off each week, to celebrate and enjoy Him and His creation. God himself rested on the seventh day of creation. He didn’t do so because He was tired; He did it to enjoy His creation: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).
Likewise, as we take our day of rest each week, may we look back at each work week and say with satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment, “It was very good.”
And then, we can look forward to the next week, and truly say, “Thank God it’s Monday.”
Dear God, thank You for the blessing of work and rest. Thank You for giving me a new perspective of work: help me to work for You, knowing that the work of my hands is a gift from You. And help me to make intentional time to rest each day and each week, O Lord, remembering that it is something You have commanded for my good.