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Ask Chuck: Are Vacations Biblical?

by Chuck Bentley September 15, 2017

Dear Chuck,

I enjoy downtime from work. Going to nice places helps me to recharge and create family memories. Surely God doesn’t mind if we take great vacations, but I don’t know where to find it in the Bible! What’s your take on this?

Relaxing by the Beach

Dear Relaxing,

I like your question! It caused me to pause and think a bit. There are really two parts to it…the ‘are vacations biblical?’ and the key word you used,  ‘great’, to describe your preferred type of vacations.

Let me put your mind more at ease, especially if you’re sitting on a sunny beach somewhere in a tropical paradise: vacations are not only permissible, but also profitable. More on that later.

Regarding a proper approach to vacations, the planning and the purpose are of utmost importance and one that believers need to seriously ponder. We have to be careful not to go overboard trying to have a “great” vacation.

Recently I read that Saudi Arabia’s King Salman spent roughly $100 million on his summer holiday in Morocco. In contrast, I drove my family to Texas in a rental car (because my cars have too many miles) and stayed at my brother’s house. And, I loved every minute of it. I had come off a heavy 6 months of writing, traveling, and speaking, and I wanted time with my parents, siblings and children. I didn’t realize how badly I needed the break in my schedule until I got off the “day to day treadmill”!

Often, we don’t realize our need until we get away and relax. But, God knew and planned it for us. For us, it was ‘great’, but not expensive.

God Created Rest

We can see in the Bible that God designed many forms of rest in creation, beginning with the creation of the sun and the moon. Our mind and bodies involuntarily shut down every night when we go to sleep. They continue to function, but only as God designed. It is obvious we were made to have rest from our daily work.

He placed man in the garden with the job of working and taking dominion over it. Like Adam, we too have to work, some more physically than others. But, we are to each to thrive in our work, to ultimately bring glory to God. And, in his perfect plan, God designed our hard work to be followed by sleep, which renews our weary minds and bodies, recharging us for a new day of work.

In fact, Solomon noted “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:2 ESV) So, I view sleep as a gift from our loving Father in which we are to close our eyes and rest in total dependence on him.

Beyond daily rest, God gave the Sabbath, a holy day set apart for spiritual and physical refreshment each week. It is a time for us to exercise faith in His provision as we rest from our labors. It’s the day in our week to worship with other believers, in a spirit of thanksgiving for his bountiful provision for life here and in eternity because of Christ’s work on the cross.

God also instituted feasts, annual times of celebrations, for His people to pause and remember the Lord and all He did for them.

In addition, God set aside the Sabbath year – an entire year of rest every seven years – for the land.

And the data indicates that these periods of rest are truly valuable!

Current Statistics

  • 91% of business leaders surveyed believe their employees return recharged and ready to work more effectively.
  • 77% of HR professionals believe that employees who use their time off are more productive than those who take less vacation time.
  • Studies show that Europeans, who work fewer hours and vacation more than twice the number of days Americans do, are more productive in the workplace overall.

Why We Need Vacations

  • The brain functions better after rest.
  • When the mind and body relax, overall health boosts.
  • Creativity, productivity, and quality of work improve after vacations.
  • Episodes of depression diminish.
  • Sleep improves.
  • Our souls are restored.
  • We gain greater appreciation for nature and people of diverse cultures.
  • Goal achievement is enhanced.
  • Families are strengthened.
  • Sense of balance is renewed when the rhythm of work and rest is reset.
  • Burnouts are prevented.

Purpose of Rest

We are to rest so we are prepared to work as unto the Lord, no matter what He calls us to do. Reorienting our hearts and minds to what really matters refreshes us to better work as unto the Lord.

Rest equips us for serving. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.” (1 Corinthians 6:19) You need to take care of yourself and your family.

Vacations to Avoid

  • Those that are too expensive and create financial hardships or debt.
  • Those that are too short, too busy, or too stressful.
  • Environments that lead to sin and lust.  
  • Extravagant destinations that cause wasteful spending.

Budget-Friendly Ideas

  • Hiking or biking state and national parks.
  • Camping and outdoor recreation.
  • Book and Bible reading in a tent, cabin, or other restful destination.
  • Road trips to extended family, sightseeing along the way.
  • Painting or journaling through a history tour.
  • Staycations with special meals, games, concerts, etc.

So go on your vacation with a well-planned budget, proper motivation and the hope of rejuvenation. The believer should never take a vacation from our faith. Rather, we vacation to deepen our commitment to Christ. Seek to attend a church or worship service wherever you are. Continue your family devotions and express your gratitude for God’s goodness! Go prepared to share the hope that is in you with those God puts in your path.

And, may your days off, holidays, and vacations recreate within you the hope for fruitful labor in the advancement of God’s kingdom.

Thanks again, it makes me dream of my next vacation just answering your question!

Crown hosts an annual Gathering to give our ministry partners from around the world an opportunity to gather, relax, and hear about the incredible things God is doing in and through our ministry. We meet in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina to rest, enjoy the beauty of Autumn in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and celebrate life transformation. And you are invited to join us! It’s one of our favorite times all year, as we get to fellowship with our ministry partners and friends. Learn more and register here!

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