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Jim Denison, Ph.D., speaks and writes on cultural and contemporary issues. He produces a daily column which is distributed to more than 113,000 subscribers in 203 countries. He also writes for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian PostCommon Call, and other publications.
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The ancient cure for work stress

Dr. Jim Denison | February 17, 2017
Alexander Acosta is President Trump’s new nominee for Labor Secretary. If confirmed, he will head the Department of Labor, which advocates for American job seekers, wage earners and retirees, and ensures that US workers receive appropriate benefits and rights.

We can use the help.

ABC News reports that Americans work more than anyone in the industrialized world. We take less vacation, work longer days, and retire later. It’s no wonder that, according to Forbes, 52.3 percent of us are unhappy at work.

After the president’s Labor Secretary announcement, I did a brief study of rest in the Bible. The concept appears early: “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” (Genesis 2:2). Why would an omnipotent God need to rest?

The answer is found in the word “rested,” which translates the Hebrew term from which we get “sabbath.” Thus we read: “So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation” (v. 3). God rested as an example for those made in his image. If he would observe a Sabbath, so must we.

His example later became our command: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). This commandment is so important that the text explaining it (vv. 9–11) comprises the longest commentary on any of the Ten Commandments.

Here’s one reason rest is so important: it is God’s way of empowering us to serve him. If the church would change the culture, we must first be changed by Christ. The equation is simple: less rest, less service. Here we face two temptations.

One: Work for God before we rest with him. The psalmist warns us: “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2). Human words cannot change human hearts. We can do nothing significant for God unless we are empowered by God.

Two: Rest, but not in Christ. Time off work is not sufficient here—we need time spent with Jesus. Our Lord calls us to “be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)—both imperatives are essential. Scripture is clear: “In quietness and trust shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15)—both commitments are needed.

As the saying goes, “If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” That’s because he knows that the more we work in our strength and the less we rest in Christ, the less we threaten Satan. He wants us to see resting in Jesus as optional when God sees it as imperative.

So, how do we rest in Christ?

1.    Make time every morning to be alone with Jesus in his worship and word.
2.    Make time through the day to reconnect with him.
3.    Make time at the end of the day for confession and thanksgiving.
4.    Make a Sabbath, a day each week during which you rest from work and focus on worship and quiet.
5.    Make occasional extended times to be alone with your Lord.

The coming weekend is a good time to find time for your soul. The less you have time for a Sabbath, the more you need one.

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