Few men accomplished more in a lifetime than the late George Benson. He pioneered missionary efforts in the 1930's in China and the Philippines. A small, struggling Harding College called him to its presidency. By the time he retired, it was a large, respected, financially stable institution of learning. He also assisted several other Christian colleges in fund-raising and administration. The Freedom Foundation awarded him more medals than any other person. He made countless speeches all over the world. At the very end of Benson's biography, Dr. John Stevens quoted someone who told him, "Dr. Benson, I wish you would quit working so hard and take a much deserved rest," to which Dr. Benson replied, "Earth is a place for work; heaven is a place for rest" (Before Any Were Willing, p. 277).
The concepts of work and leisure are often misunderstood. Work is part of God's plan for man. Because of Adam's sin, the earth is cursed and requires man's toil to produce. Yet work is not a curse of man, but, rather, a blessing. "That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil -- this is the gift of God" (Ecclesiastes 3:13). "So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?" (Ecclesiastes 3:22).
So often, people do not find satisfaction in what they do. This is indicated by the fewer hours worked today as compared to the past. George Barna notes that twenty-five years ago the average man spent forty-nine hours a week in work and today spends only forty-two. Women also work less, a thirty-one-hour week instead of thirty-nine just a quarter of a century ago. Although we spend more time in commuting and other activities, the amount of time used in recreational activities increased 10% during this period.
This is not to say that recreation and play are wrong or unnecessary. What is needed is a change in attitude. Our goal on earth is not to find all the time possible for leisure. Jesus enjoins us to seek first the kingdom of God and serve both God and man (Matthew 6:33). We are to work so that we can have enough to live and to have some to give to those who have need (Ephesians 4:28). After this comes rest and recreation. To put these activities in any other order of priority only invites physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual disaster.
Let's never lost sight of our promised rest. "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God" (Hebrews 4:9). "Then I heard a voice from heaven saying, Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them" (Revelation 14:13). This rest is only a ceasing of earthly labor. We will continue to work, serving God day and night before His throne. There is no work here so hard that the rest in heaven will not make up for it. To this end, may we labor and toil to serve Him.