While a little rest is a good thing, too much of it can cause harm both physically and mentally. Our ability to perform basic tasks can be hindered by the lack of exercise and our minds become less capable of working complex problems as we allow them to think upon “nothing”.
The Scripture is full of warnings about the dangers of resting when we should be laboring (Proverbs 10:26, 12:27, 15:19, and 19:15), yet finding the line between rest and work can be difficult. Not every one of us is physically capable of performing hard labor or applying our minds to tedious calculations. Acts which would appear to be laziness if performed by a star athlete may be the height of exertion for someone afflicted by a chronic illness. So how do we know if we are disguising laziness as “rest”? Here are three questions worth asking:
- Am I resting at the expense of tasks which need to be accomplished? Taking responsibility is important and a failure to fulfill our obligations can be a sign that we’re growing lazy. But this isn’t always the case. It’s just as easy to fail by overscheduling our already packed lives – so it’s up to each of us to know the difference!
- Am I physically capable of accomplishing the tasks I’ve committed to? If we’re capable of fulfilling our obligations, but aren’t, it’s a good guess that we’re growing lazy. But keep in mind that what our bodies can do varies as we age or progress through cycles of sickness and health. Just because we were capable of a certain level of physical exertion a week ago, doesn’t mean we’ll be capable today. Again, it’s our responsibility to determine whether our pace is slackening due to sloth or because of legitimate physical necessity.
- Am I mentally capable of performing the tasks before me? Sometimes, we bite off more than we can chew. It may be an AP class that requires more study than we have time for or a household renovation which demands math skills we never learned. Despite this, we need to be careful that we don’t turn mental weakness into an excuse for never trying anything difficult or different. If we do, laziness lies in wait.
If you’ve noticed that this list is a bit subjective, then you aren’t alone. One of the things which makes Christianity unique is its ability to recognize that while there are some universal absolutes (like that God is holy, all men are sinners, and salvation comes through Christ alone), the outcome of those absolutes will look a little different for everyone. It’s up to individuals, moved by the Holy Spirit, to determine whether they are or aren’t living the lives to which they’ve been called. What’s so great about this? In the end, the only one that any of us can compare ourselves to is ourselves and to Christ!
This week, spend some time in prayer and introspection. Ask God to reveal whether you could use more rest or less. Then, commit to acting upon His revelation. Only when we do, will we become the light He created us to be!