No. 19: The Difference Between Rest and Leisure?

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No. 19: What’s the Difference Between Rest and Leisure?

Listen to this episode from One Degree Podcast on Spotify. If you’re feeling burnt out and in need of some true rest, this is for you. What is the difference between rest and leisure? Does it matter what activities I do in order to find rest?

What is the difference between rest and leisure? Does it matter what activities I do in order to find rest? Why can’t I seem to hold on to that feeling of being well-rested?

In this episode, we discuss what rest and leisure are and how true rest can only be found in God.

We dig into what Scripture has to say about rest, its purpose, and how we can truly experience it.

Why is rest important?

To give a simple, biblical answer: we are commanded to rest! It is for our good and obedience to this command shows fruit in our lives.

Our society is full of hurries and worries, but our culture has begun to shift away from “the grind” mentality that showed up on every wooden decor sign in Hobby Lobby. Even with this shift, we can still see differences between the secular and Christian worlds. In the secular world, rest looks more like self-care and can be more self-focused.

As we shift away from the hustle culture, people have more free time and there is a bigger emphasis on the work-life balance. Even though we have more ability and time, are we actually utilizing it well? It seems as if our culture has overcorrected to spend time in leisure.

Defining Rest and Leisure

Here are the dictionary definitions of leisure and rest (don’t worry- they come from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, so we know they are legit):

Leisure: the freedom provided by the cessation of activities, especially time free from work or duties.

We can see from this definition that leisure isn’t inherently good or bad,

Rest: freedom from activity or labor; peace of mind or spirit; to be free from anxiety or disturbance.

Those last two definitions are the ones that we really want to hone in on in this episode.

What difference does it make?

In Andy Crouch’s The Tech-Wise Family, he states that “if toil is fruitless labor, you could think of leisure as fruitless escape from labor. It’s a kind of rest that doesn’t really restore our souls, it doesn’t restore our relationships with others or God, and crucially, it is the kind of rest that doesn’t give others the chance to rest. Leisure is purchased from other people who have to work to provide us with our experiences of entertainment and rejuvenation.” For example, many people think of going out to restaurants as restful, but other people still have to work to provide it to us.

Some common leisure activities are watching sports, scrolling through social media, or binging Netflix. They may give you a break from working, but they don’t truly fill your soul or give you true rest. There is a time and a place for these things, so we aren’t saying that they are bad. But we do have to recognize that these leisure activities don’t rejuvenate our souls.

Rest, on the other hand, does fill our souls. Think of activities like reading a book, taking a hike, taking a nap, having stimulating conversations, prayer, meditation, etc… They give you a break from work AND they replenish your soul. For Christians, rest takes it a step further by replenishing your soul by realigning your affections to God.

What does the Bible say?

What Does the Bible Say About Rest? thesibleys.co

Matthew 11:28-30 says “come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

We can hear some different interpretations of this passage. Some poorly understand what is being said here as “it is easy to be a follower of Christ and life will be great!” But this passage comes right after Jesus warns and laments over unrepentant cities. It’s not about life being easy as a follower of Jesus. If Jesus is only provides physical rest and ease, why did most of his disciples suffer tortuous and excruciating deaths? Their lives (from the secular perspective) were certainly not easy- they were persecuted, shamed, ridiculed, and ultimately died horrible deaths. This is not the kind of rest that Jesus is talking about here. He is talking about true rest- peace of mind and spirit and being free from anxiety and disturbance.

1 Peter 5:6-7 tells us to “humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time, he might exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him because he cares for you.” True rest comes from humbling yourself, seeing, believing, and living the Gospel. Ultimately, it provides freedom from anxiety.

What does rest actually look like?

Sometimes it still doesn’t feel like we have true rest as believers. It’s not as simple as having the Spirit within you and magically being free from these burdens and anxieties and effects of living in a fallen world. We often have to pray and work through these worries to come to the conclusion that, at the end of the day, we are not living for this world. This realization can give so much freedom to trust in the sovereignty of God. When we are up at 3 AM worrying about something, this is where we can find true rest from. No matter what happens, our hope is not in anything of this world or this life- it lies in the cross. The knowledge of our relationship with God, and our eternal destiny help us to rest easy.

We are not only commanded to rest, we are designed to rest. God, who is the only being in the entire universe who doesn’t need a single ounce of sleep, He doesn’t grow tired or get irritable, still chooses to rest! Since we are made in His image, we should follow His example. Again, rest isn’t just about ceasing from work, it is turning our attention to God.

Nathaniel discusses how he used to think about rest and Sabbath as ceasing from all work- as leisure. Saturdays would be filled with playing flag football and watching college football all day, but he realized it wasn’t stirring his affections towards God.

Now that we know what Scripture says about rest, how do we actually experience and live it out? We give four points to help you think about what rest actually is.

1. Only God can provide true rest.

In Matthew 11, Jesus doesn’t tell us to take a nap or to stop working for our rest. Understanding and believing the Gospel- coming to Jesus, is the only thing that will provide us true rest. A common critique of this is that plenty of nonbelievers are able to feel rested. And yes- they are able to replenish their souls and have it temporarily, but they will have to continuously do those things that temporarily provide rest. The rest that Jesus provides isn’t dependent on the activities that we do, it is dependent on who we’re finding it in… Jesus! This is why the activities that we do should turn our focus back to God.

2. The purpose of rest is to stir your affections for God.

The purpose of rest is to stir your affections for God. The original purpose of Sabbath was to provide a regular break from work and regular chores and labor to take that time to engage in worship and fellowship with friends and family. Take this time to study and worship God and spend time fellowshipping with brothers and sisters in Christ!

3. An activity can sometimes be restful and other times be leisure.

Examples could be taking a nap or playing basketball. The key question to ask is: does this activity turn my affections to God or does it turn my affections towards myself? One of Nathaniel’s professors once said that “If you work with your hands, Sabbath with your mind. If you work with your mind, Sabbath with your hands.”

4. Rest is for the flourishing of every area of your life.

When we engage in true rest, it enables every area of our lives to flourish- marriage, family, jobs, schoolwork, etc… It frees us up to work in any of these areas from rest instead of working for it. Work and rest should not be a hindrance to each other.

One Degree Shifts

We are going to offer two types of One-Degree Shifts:

  1. Engage in more activities that stir your affections for God
  2. Refrain your thoughts and figure out how activities that you already do can stir your affections for God.

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