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 STUDY ARTICLE 49

“There Is an Appointed Time” for Work and for Rest

“There Is an Appointed Time” for Work and for Rest

“Come . . . into an isolated place and rest up a little.”​—MARK 6:31.

SONG 143 Keep Working, Watching, and Waiting

PREVIEW *

1. What views do many people have about work?

HOW do most people where you live view work? In many countries, people are working harder and longer than ever before. Overworked people are often too busy to rest, to spend time with their families, or to satisfy their spiritual need. (Eccl. 2:23) On the other hand, some people do not like to work at all and make excuses for not working.​—Prov. 26:13, 14.

2-3. Jehovah and Jesus set what examples regarding work?

2 In contrast with the world’s unbalanced attitudes, consider the way that Jehovah and Jesus view work. There is no question that Jehovah is a worker. Jesus made that clear, saying: “My Father has kept working until now, and I keep working.” (John 5:17) Think of all the work God did as he created countless spirit creatures and the vast universe. We also see ample evidence of God’s creative works on the beautiful earth where we live. The psalmist rightly said: “How many your works are, O Jehovah! You have made all of them in wisdom. The earth is full of what you have made.”​—Ps. 104:24.

3 Jesus imitated his Father. The Son, as wisdom personified, was involved when God “prepared the heavens.” He was with Jehovah “as a master worker.” (Prov. 8:27-31) Much later, when Jesus was on earth, he did outstanding work. That work was like food for him, and his works proved that God had sent him.​—John 4:34; 5:36; 14:10.

4. What can we learn from Jehovah and Jesus about rest?

 4 Do the examples set by Jehovah and Jesus in working hard imply that it is not necessary for us to rest? Not at all. Jehovah never gets tired, so he does not need physical rest. The Bible does say that after Jehovah created the heavens and the earth, “he rested and refreshed himself.” (Ex. 31:17) However, that evidently means that Jehovah paused and found satisfaction in what he had made. And although Jesus worked hard while he lived on earth, he still made time to rest and to enjoy meals with his friends.​—Matt. 14:13; Luke 7:34.

5. What struggle do many face?

5 The Bible encourages God’s people to be workers. His servants are to be industrious rather than lazy. (Prov. 15:19) Perhaps you work secularly to care for your family. And all disciples of Christ have the responsibility to share in the work of preaching the good news. Still, you also need to get sufficient rest. Do you sometimes struggle to balance time for secular work, for the ministry, and for rest? How do we know how much to work and how much to rest?

FINDING THE BALANCE

6. How does Mark 6:30-34 show that Jesus had a balanced view of work and rest?

6 Regarding work, balance is important. King Solomon was inspired to write: “There is an appointed time for . . . every activity.” He mentioned planting, building, weeping, laughing, dancing, and other activities. (Eccl. 3:1-8) Clearly, two fundamental aspects of life are work and rest. Jesus had a balanced view of work and rest. On one occasion, the apostles returned from a preaching tour. They were so busy that “they had no leisure time even to eat a meal.” Jesus said: “Come, you yourselves, privately into an isolated place and rest up a little.” (Read Mark 6:30-34.) Even though he and his disciples were not always able to get the rest they wanted, Jesus knew that they all needed to rest.

7. How will a consideration of the Sabbath law help us?

7 At times, some rest or some change truly is needed. We can see that from an arrangement that God made for his ancient people​—the weekly Sabbath. We are not under the Mosaic Law, yet we can benefit from considering what it said about the Sabbath. What we learn can help us to analyze our view of work and rest.

THE SABBATH​—A TIME FOR REST AND WORSHIP

8. According to Exodus 31:12-15, the Sabbath was a day for what?

8 God’s Word states that after six “days” of creating, God paused from his works as regards the earth. (Gen. 2:2) Yet, Jehovah loves to work, and in other respects he “has kept working.” (John 5:17) The provision for the weekly Sabbath follows a pattern similar to that of Jehovah’s day of rest described in Genesis. God said that the Sabbath was a sign between him and Israel. It was a day of “complete rest . . . , something holy to Jehovah.” (Read Exodus 31:12-15.) The prohibition against work applied to everyone, including children, slaves, and even domestic animals. (Ex. 20:10) It  allowed the people to give more attention to spiritual matters.

9. What unbalanced view of the Sabbath existed in Jesus’ day?

9 The Sabbath day was good for God’s people; however, many religious leaders in Jesus’ time took an extreme, rigid view of it. They claimed that it was unlawful on the Sabbath even to pluck some heads of grain or to heal a person who was ill. (Mark 2:23-27; 3:2-5) Such views did not reflect God’s thinking, and Jesus made that clear to those who would listen.

Jesus’ family used the Sabbath to focus on spiritual matters (See paragraph 10) *

10. What can we learn from Matthew 12:9-12 about Jesus’ view of the Sabbath?

10 Jesus and his Jewish followers observed the Sabbath because they were under the Mosaic Law. * But Jesus showed by word and deed that keeping the Sabbath was to be reasonable and that kind and helpful actions were allowable. He plainly said: “It is lawful to do a fine thing on the Sabbath.” (Read Matthew 12:9-12.) He did not view performing kind and helpful actions as a violation of the Sabbath. Jesus’ actions highlighted a key feature of the Sabbath. Because God’s people rested from their daily labor, they were able to focus on spiritual things. Jesus grew up in a family that must have used the Sabbath for spiritual benefit. That is reflected in  what we read about Jesus when he was in his hometown of Nazareth: “According to [Jesus’] custom on the Sabbath day, he entered the synagogue and stood up to read.”​—Luke 4:15-19.

WHAT IS YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD WORK?

11. What good example did Jesus have regarding work?

11 Joseph surely shared God’s view of work as he taught Jesus, his adopted son, to be a carpenter. (Matt. 13:55, 56) And Jesus would have seen Joseph working hard day after day to support his sizable family. Interestingly, Jesus later told his disciples: “The worker is worthy of his wages.” (Luke 10:7) Yes, Jesus was familiar with hard work.

12. What scriptures show the Bible’s approach to hard work?

12 It was similar with the apostle Paul. His primary activity was bearing witness to Jesus’ name and message. Yet, Paul worked to support himself. The Thessalonians were aware of his “labor and toil,” his “working night and day” so that he would not put “an expensive burden” on anyone. (2 Thess. 3:8; Acts 20:34, 35) Paul may have been referring to his work as a tentmaker. While in Corinth, he stayed with Aquila and Priscilla and “worked with them, for they were tentmakers by trade.” That Paul worked “night and day” did not mean that he worked nonstop. He took breaks from tentmaking, such as on the Sabbath. That day provided him with opportunities to witness to Jews, who also were not working on the Sabbath.​—Acts 13:14-16, 42-44; 16:13; 18:1-4.

13. What can we learn from Paul’s example?

13 The apostle Paul set a good example. He had to do secular work; still, he made sure to share regularly “in the holy work of the good news of God.” (Rom. 15:16; 2 Cor. 11:23) He urged others to do likewise. Consequently, Aquila and Priscilla were his “fellow workers in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 12:11; 16:3) Paul urged the Corinthians to have “plenty to do in the work of the Lord.” (1 Cor. 15:58; 2 Cor. 9:8) Jehovah even inspired the apostle Paul to write: “If anyone does not want to work, neither let him eat.”​—2 Thess. 3:10.

14. What did Jesus mean when he made the statement recorded at John 14:12?

14 The most important work in these last days is that of preaching and disciple-making. In fact, Jesus foretold that his disciples would do works even greater than his! (Read John 14:12.) He did not mean that we would perform miracles as he did. Rather, his followers would preach and teach in a larger territory, to more people, and for a longer period of time than he did.

15. What questions should we ask ourselves, and why?

15 If you have a secular job, ask yourself these questions: ‘Am I known at my workplace as a hard worker? Do I complete my work on time and to the best of my ability?’ If you can answer yes, then you will likely earn your employer’s trust. You will also make the Kingdom message more appealing to those who are observing you. When it comes to the preaching and teaching work, ask yourself these questions: ‘Am I known as a hard worker in the ministry? Do I  prepare well for initial calls? Do I return promptly to talk with interested people? And do I have a regular share in various aspects of the ministry?’ If you can answer yes, you will find joy in your work.

WHAT IS YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD REST?

16. What difference is there between the attitude of Jesus and the apostles toward rest and that of many today?

16 Jesus knew that at times he and the apostles needed some rest. However, many people back then and many today can be likened to the rich man in Jesus’ illustration. That man convinced himself: “Take it easy, eat, drink, enjoy yourself.” (Luke 12:19; 2 Tim. 3:4) He set his heart on rest and pleasures. In contrast, Jesus and the apostles did not center their lives on pleasing themselves.

Having a balanced view of work and rest will allow us to focus on doing good works that refresh us (See paragraph 17) *

17. How do we use the time that we have off from secular work?

17 Today, we try to imitate Jesus by using the time we have off from work not only to rest but also to do good by witnessing to others and attending Christian meetings. In fact, to us, disciple-making and meeting attendance are so important that we make every effort to engage regularly in those sacred activities. (Heb. 10:24, 25) Even when we are on vacation, we keep to our regular spiritual routine of attending meetings wherever we are, and we look for opportunities to have conversations with those whom we meet.​—2 Tim. 4:2.

18. What does our King, Christ Jesus, want us to do?

18 How grateful we are that our King, Christ Jesus, is reasonable and helps us to have a balanced view of work and rest! (Heb. 4:15) He wants us to get the rest we need. He also wants us to work hard to provide for our physical needs and to engage in the refreshing work of making disciples. In the next article, we will discuss the role that Jesus plays in liberating us from a cruel form of slavery.

SONG 38 He Will Make You Strong

^ par. 5 The Scriptures teach us how to have a balanced view of work and rest. Using the weekly Sabbath given to the Israelites as an example, this article will help us to analyze our attitude toward work and rest.

^ par. 10 The disciples had so much respect for the Sabbath law that they stopped preparations for Jesus’ burial until the Sabbath day was over.​—Luke 23:55, 56.

^ par. 55 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: Joseph takes his family to the synagogue on the Sabbath.

^ par. 57 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A father who works to support his family uses his time off for theocratic activity, even when he and his family are on vacation.