“What does the Bible say about workaholism?”
Answer: The modern term “workaholic” is not found anywhere in the Bible. However, biblical principles can be brought to bear on the discussion of workaholics—those whose devotion to their career, job, or ministry has reached the point of obsessiveness. Anything obsessed about, other than God, is an idol. As Christians, we have to be very careful not to let the cares and allurements of the world distract us from our devotion to Christ. Workaholics are people who are addicted to their work in much the same way an alcoholic is addicted to alcohol. Such a person rarely rests. He is constantly worried about the next sale, business deal, commission check, or task. A workaholic businessman often has difficulty seeing his friends as merely friends and not business prospects. A workaholic pastor runs the risk of seeing people more as aids or obstacles to a project than as individuals in need of ministry.
As Christians, our focus on life is to be less on our vocation and more on how our vocation fits into God’s plan for our life. Certainly, work is a blessed activity. The first man was given work to do by God (Genesis 2:15). A secular job is not forbidden in Scripture. We know that Paul was a tentmaker and Luke a physician. And, of course, there is much work to do in “full-time ministry” jobs as well. Jesus told us to pray for “workers” to serve in God’s harvest (Luke 10:2). But both in the ministry and in secular work, we need a balance. Rest and recreation are also God’s design (Genesis 2:2). One good test to know whether we are too focused on our jobs is to ask ourselves how much time we spend thinking about our jobs when we are not actually at work. If more of our thoughts are centered on our jobs than on God, we may be in danger.
Even when involved in the seemingly mundane tasks of a secular job, our hearts should be turned to heaven. We should glorify God in all that we do. We should maintain a good work ethic in our employment by doing things as Christ would, with honor and to the best of our ability. As Paul reminded the Colossians, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17). In all things, we should echo the psalmist’s prayer in Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.” Workaholics never have time to meditate in their hearts on the Word of God.
Being a workaholic isn’t directly comparable to worshipping idols. However, if the job takes up so much energy that it distracts from the relationship with Jesus Christ having predominance, then it could be considered idolatry. We should view our employment as opportunities to advance the kingdom of God through our talents and finances. We should be very strategic in our approach and have a balanced life where we are more focused on Jesus Christ than on our vocation.
What does the Bible say about rest and relaxation?“
Answer: “Rest” is defined as “peace, ease or refreshment.” “Relax” means “to become loose or less firm, to have a milder manner, to be less stiff.” The Bible speaks quite highly of rest. It is a repeated theme throughout Scripture, beginning with the creation week (Genesis 2:2-3). God created for six days; then He rested, not because He was tired but to set the standard for mankind to follow. The Ten Commandments made resting on the Sabbath a requirement of the Law (Exodus 20:8-11). Notice that God said, “Remember the Sabbath.” It wasn’t something new; it had been around since creation. All God’s people and their servants and the animals were to have one day in seven to rest. The command to rest was not an excuse to be lazy. You had to work for six days to get to the Sabbath. The land also needed to rest (Leviticus 25:4, 8-12). God is very serious about rest.
God desires rest for us because it does not come naturally to us. To rest, we have to trust that God will take care of things for us. We have to trust that, if we take a day off, the world will not stop turning on its axis. From the beginning (Genesis 3), when we decided that we would start making all the decisions, mankind has become more tense and less able to relax. It was disobedience in the Garden that started the problem, but obedience now will bring the rest that God so desires for us (Hebrews 3:7 – 4:11). If one of the definitions of “relax” is “to become less firm,” then relaxing our grip on our own lives, careers, families, etc., and giving them over to God in faith is the best way to relax.
For the Christian, the ultimate rest is found in Christ. He invites all who are “weary and burdened” to come to Him and cast our cares on Him (Matthew 11:28; 1 Peter 5:7). It is only in Him that we find our complete rest—from the cares of the world, from the sorrows that plague us, and from the need to work to make ourselves acceptable to Him. We no longer observe the Jewish Sabbath because Jesus is our Sabbath rest. In Him we find complete rest from the labors of our self-effort, because He alone is holy and righteous. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). We can now cease from our spiritual labors and rest in Him, not just one day a week, but always.
Question: “What does the Bible say about fun and entertainment?”
Answer: God never says, “Thou shalt not have fun, nor shalt thou smile in all thy days.” Having a good time is not a sin, but we should pay attention to the principles God has laid out for godly living when we do engage in leisure activities. First and foremost is Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” When we are relaxing and having fun or when we are seeking entertainment, we should always make sure these activities are pleasing God.
Things like food, wine, money, etc., are morally neutral. Wine, for example, is neither good nor evil. It’s what we do with it that makes it so. Paul points out that “…if food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do” (1 Corinthians 8:8). He immediately follows this, however, with an important instruction we should apply to all our activities, including fun and entertainment. “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Corinthians 8:9). Our freedom to relax and enjoy our lives should never cause others to stumble in their faith. A classic example is that we should not serve wine at dinner if we have invited someone who is a recovering alcoholic. We should follow Paul’s lead, “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19, 22).
God also does not want us to be under the influence of unbelievers. We may associate with them, as Christ did when He sat at dinner with sinners and tax collectors, but we should not allow ourselves to be influenced by them. Paul writes, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-15). For example, a man shouldn’t go with his buddies for a round of golf if he should be spending time building his relationship with his wife or if their conversations are coarse or profane. We should be living for God in all things, and we should be able to have the strength to say “No!” when someone tries to take us away from that.
According to Colossians 3:17, we should also give thanks to God through Jesus Christ for the fun and entertainment He provides. Someone once pointed out that “recreation” means to “re-create” or “renew.” God allows us this time to be renewed and to grow in our faith. James tells us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). Fun and entertainment are gifts of God, given so that we might come closer to Him. We should remember this when we are planning our recreation and remember to thank God for such a good and perfect gift.