How to fight back against the idol of productivity

The laundry and grocery shopping needs to be done. There are kids to pick-up, and disagreements to resolve. You’re trying to get going on the day, but something broke on the car or in the house, and you’re running late. Again. 

Life feels like a frantic uphill climb, and we cannot seem to cross anything off the to-do list yet again. Surely, this isn’t the life God saved us for when He sent Jesus to the cross?

You’re right. It isn’t. Contrary to what culture might tell you, you are not what you produce, and your value is not based on your ability to produce. 

You are not what you produce, and your value is not based on your ability to produce. 

God loves you because you are His, not because you get things done. You are God’s beloved, and He grants rest to those He loves. 

“It is useless for you to work so hard
    from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat;
    for God gives rest to his loved ones” (Psalm 127:2, NLT).

Rest is a gift, and a reminder of who our Dad is. Rest is a practical way to say, “God, I love you, and I trust you to take care of me.”

How the Sabbath Helps Stave Off the Idol of Productivity 

After God finished creating, He rested (Genesis 2:2-3). We are made in God’s image, and when we rest, we imitate Him. We take on what is rightfully ours as children of God (Hebrews 4:9-10). 

We are to work, and we are to rest. This is God’s rhythm, and it’s the rhythm He tells His people to keep. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work ...” (Deuteronomy 5:12-14). 

A Sabbath is simply a day of rest. When we keep the Sabbath, we remember the significant work Jesus accomplished on the cross. There is no sacrifice, religious act, financial contribution, or good deed that can earn the gift Jesus gave us

When we remember what we’ve been rescued from, we celebrate the Rescuer. We take our eyes off ourselves and fix them where they belong. 

When productivity becomes an idol, it takes over our thoughts, our words, and our schedules. It causes us to covet, compare, and judge as we boast in what we are capable of — fooling ourselves into thinking we did these things our own.

Jesus reminds us that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Every breath, every talent, every dollar we bring home is a gift from God. 

Resting reminds us we are not (and were not) designed to accomplish everything on our own. God wants to be involved in our day-to-day.

Where We Get the Ability to Rest

Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28). 

Resting doesn’t come naturally in the cursed state we were all born into. We see what people are doing via social media and assume we should be doing all those things as well. So we add more to our already busy lives.

That’s why the Sabbath is God’s gift to us. God knew rest would be necessary to sustain life. We were not designed to run at the pace we put on ourselves. We were meant to live free, fully rested and rejuvenated in Jesus’ presence. 

Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and striving after wind. - Ecclesiastes 4:6 

We find peace when we remember the lengths Jesus went to be in a relationship with us. He died for us before we ever did a thing for Him. 

When we remember we have nothing to earn from God, we can choose confidently to rest before God. He already loves you. He wants to be a part of your day, guiding the decisions you make and the tasks you take on. 

Proverbs 1:32-33 says those who listen to God will dwell secure and be at peace, without dread of disaster. Consider the daily, monthly, and annually habits that allow you to rest. If you’re not sure, or it’s been too long to remember, ask God to show them to you. As we let Him shape our rhythms, we’ll find we accomplish more because we’re operating our of rest, not exhaustion. 

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