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The French & Rest

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Back in the 1700’s the French developed an alternate calendar in an attempt to scrub clean any residue of God. This all occurred during the French Revolution when sanitizing culture from all things religious was priority one. The calendar they cooked up is now called the French Revolutionary Calendar. The French month had 10 day weeks instead of 7 day weeks because the French were fascinated with the number 10. You can also thank them (or totally despise them) for developing the metric system during this same time.

This only lasted for about 12 years however until Napoleon quashed it, going back to our current calendar.  One of the reasons the French calendar was ditched was the reaction of the working class to their days off. They went from 52 days around 35, which is a 40% reduction. Workers were getting burned out and overworked.  

The moral to this history lesson is that when we innovate on God’s rhythms of rest, we burn out. The French didn’t resource God’s wisdom on purpose, and their brilliant innovation lasted 12 short years. I think sometimes we operate more on the French’s busted up and cobwebbed calendar more than God’s, grabbing rest whenever it is accidentally within reach.

I am convinced that we don’t take a day of rest because the work isn’t done. But can we all be honest for a minute? The work will never be done.

When I went through my father’s desk after he died, it was full of “things to be done” - yet he was retired. There were piles and stacks of tasks and projects. The work is never done, because our broken gardens will always have “thorns and thistles” and demand our cultivation of it. We don’t rest because we run out of things to do and get bored, but because we’ll never run out of things to do and need God to replenish, remind, and recalibrate our hearts as we employ our effort for his glory. If we only rested when the work is done, then our calendar will look worse than the broken French one as we take 2 Sabbath rests per decade.

I’m not going to comment here on whether this ought to be on Sunday, Saturday, or whenever, but I hope you see that the gift of the creational mandate of the Sabbath agrees with what the French found out the hard way, and that is simply we need rest and we need it often. In fact God showed us the proper ratio of work to rest (6:1) and we swerve from that model at our own risk. He made the Sabbath for man, not man for the Sabbath.(Mark 2:27) We will burn out if we place productivity before honoring God’s wiring in us as his creation. If I am more fascinated in my work than God’s work for me, then I am aiming for a very rocky coastline. If I am fascinated with elevating God’s work however, then it will require me acknowledging that I am carved out of dust and require rest - often.  

Posted by Luke Thomas with

Bodily Weakness Is Contagious

According to wise old king Solomon, our eyes are never satisfied.1 This statement extends beyond beyond food, but food is a bit of a softball when it comes to applying Solomon’s words. If there’s room on the plate, then there is room for more food, right? I’d like to make the quick case that being weak in handling food/fitness can lead to weakness in other areas of life. Very simply, if we cannot buffet the body regarding food /fitness, we’ll find it an uphill climb with other desires of the flesh.

Obedience and discipline aren’t on a switch we can turn on / off depending on the current moment. In other words, I can’t be strong against lust when I eat whatever is in my sightline. I cannot contend well with anger when I contend poorly with overall bodily fitness. If I am soft when it comes to my mouth, I’ll be weak in other areas where the flesh is demanding. Weakness in one area equals weakness in more than one area. Thomas Boston once said, “They that would keep themselves pure must have their bodies in subjection, and that may require, in some cases, a holy violence.”

Basically, being soft in our bodies inclines us towards weakness and softness in our spiritual lives as well. Bodily weakness is contagious. I’m not making this up, but ripping it off from the Apostle Paul. Speaking to a church that struggled with the flesh out loud for all to see. “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things...So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”2

Paul is connecting the discipline he applies to the exterior man with the result in the inner man. He knew that being weak in discipline regarding his physical body will without a doubt drive towards spiritual weakness and possibly disqualification. Jerry Bridges agrees with Paul:

“When the body is pampered and indulged, the instincts and passions of the body tend to get the upper hand and dominate our thoughts and actions. We tend to do not what we should do, but what we want to do, as we follow the cravings of our sinful nature.” 

Andrew Murray more bluntly says, “Overeating or eating for mere enjoyment, weights and makes the body heavy and unfit for prayer. That is the time the devil can come to you. A man may be living in victory over some sin but through the pleasure of eating the devil may get power over his flesh.”4

How we handle food and fitness is not an amoral issue outside of how we engage God, but a vital part of who we are as worshipers and disciples of Jesus. When strategy and discipline launch from this footing, it’s worshiping God. When discipline derives from what culture deems “beautiful” however it’s self-worship. This is why you can be fit and healthy and yet be in sin of self-worship. Step one is seeing weakness over your own body as a moral problem. Step two is developing a strategy for God’s honor, not your own.

(1) Proverbs 27:20
(2) 1 Cor. 9:25-27
(3) Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness, page 152
(4) Murray, The Spiritual Life, loc. 396

 

Posted by Luke Thomas with

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