All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Perhaps you’ve encountered this saying through the years. It is an old proverb and first appeared in James Howell’s Proverbs in English, Italian, French, and Spanish (published in 1659). Its meaning is clear: concentrating only on work—on our labors for our businesses, employers, or families—is inherently insufficient for maintaining good physical and mental health.
In the Bible, this is referred to as sabbath. Certainly, the Bible speaks about keeping The Sabbath, a special day set aside for religious observances and for contemplation of the presence and place of God in our lives, but scripture also alludes to the need for sabbath as rest, as time spent away from tasks or assignments. It can be a day off from school or work, or it can be several days or weeks of vacation. Its intent is to be restorative. Sabbath is making space for resting the body and reviving the soul.
Moreover, the Bible never refers to sabbath time as mere frivolity. In scriptures, sabbath (or The Sabbath) is always purposeful. Sabbath rest brings out our inner child, unleashes our sense of humor, gives us space to notice the wonders around us, revives our creativity, and so much more. Sabbath re-enables us to go back to work, school, or everyday family life with renewed vigor and rededication to the purposes that animate our days. Therefore, sabbath rest is holy, and the need for it should never be ignored.
Sabbath is important; so important that even God took time off after his creation of all that is. If a sabbath rest is good enough for God, it’s good enough for me, too!
This short reflection was featured in the June issue of Everything Holy. Since the beginning of 2021, clergy from West Missouri have been asked to do the same, making this just one feature topic that makes the packet special. Learn more about the Everything Holy project and opt-in to begin having a monthly packet delivered right to your mailbox.