Evangelism and Physical Fitness: The Biblical Value of Sleep

12 Jul

In our fast-paced society, resting often gets the short shrift.  There are only twenty-four hours in the day and most of us wake up each morning with plenty of work to fill every one of them!  There are chores to be done, studies to be completed, relationships to be developed, and work to do.  Because of this, it really isn’t that surprising that nearly 41 million American workers (and many more American students) aren’t getting enough sleep![1]  Indeed, according to one recent survey, up to 83% of us aren’t getting quality rest on a regular basis.[2]  We know it’s bad for our health, but is it actually unbiblical?  And how does this lack of sleep influence our ability to fight our spiritual battle?

The Bible actually has quite a bit to say about the value of sleep and, while we might be drawn to passages like Proverbs 6:4-11, 10:5, and 19:15 to justify our lack of sleep, it is laziness, not sleep deprivation which the author is attacking.  Indeed, Scripture has much to say about the sweetness of sleep, particularly the type of sleep which is derived from a life lived in line with God’s commands.  Take, for example, Proverbs 3:19-24:

“The LORD by wisdom founded the earth, by understanding He established the heavens. By His knowledge the deeps were broken up and the skies drip with dew. My son, let them not vanish from your sight; keep sound wisdom and discretion, so they will be life to your soul and adornment to your neck. Then you will walk in your way securely and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”

Or what about Proverbs 19:23?

“The fear of the LORD leads to life, so that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.”

The Apostle Paul asked the Corinthian church, “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)  Obedience to this command requires us not only to consider issues like our sexual practices and what we eat, but also how we care for our bodies in other ways through physical activity… and lack thereof.

God took special care in ordering our days to give us time for sleep and rest.  (Take a moment to look up the creation account in Genesis 1 or the Sabbath commands of Exodus 16:22-30, Exodus 20:9-11, and Deuteronomy 5:12-15 for greater details concerning the important rhythm of work and rest which God intended.)  For Christians, this means that we take the time to ensure that we are getting the rest we need.  But this isn’t just a random command; there are practical medical reasons for rest and those medical reasons can have a strong influence on our ability to effectively share God’s love with others.  We will take a look at a few of these reasons next week.  Meanwhile, take time to share a few of your own thoughts on the value of sleep in the comment box below!

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