The old saying says, “All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy.” However, the reverse is also true, “All play and no work makes Jack a poor man”- not only monetarily, but in character as well. As in all things in life, balance is the key. I originally intended to cover work and money in the same post, but the more I studied, the more I realized we need to look at them separately. So today, let’s focus on work.

Why work?
            God created us in His image and Jesus said He is always at work (John 5:17). So it makes sense that we need work too. God knows being productive with our time gives us a sense of purpose and satisfaction (Gen. 1:26-27; Eccles. 3:12-13). Our paychecks provide for the needs of our families (2 Thess. 3:11-13; Titus 3:14; 1 Tim. 5:8). They also allow us to give to those in need, who will in turn, give to us when we have needs (Deut. 15:10-11; Eph. 4:28).
            Work is a good thing. However, God knows we have a tendency to go overboard. If a little is good, a lot must be better, right? So we lean toward working too much on one end of the scale, or, we rebel against what we see as confining, boring, or status quo, and choose laziness instead. This is where margins come into play.   
            If you picture a piece of notebook paper with margins on the sides, God’s design for work might look something like the diagram below. The reasons mentioned most in scripture for taking time off from work are: to worship, to nurture family and relationships, to participate in ministry and community, and to enjoy rest and play. That way work doesn’t take over our lives, but neither do our pursuits of selfish pleasures. (The column to the right should read: Relationships – Family & Friends)
WORSHIP
MINISTRY/ COMMUNITY
WORK
RELATIONSHIPS – FAMILY& FRIENDS
REST & PLAY
 Biblical Margins:
            Since we’re spiritual beings, we need some time each day to develop our relationship with God, and one day each week completely dedicated to Him (Deut. 5:12-14). Work can easily overstep its boundaries – it takes discipline to make reading the Bible and communing with God a priority (Psa. 42:2). Without Him, our work becomes meaningless, as King Solomon said, “a chasing after the wind.”
            The second most important pursuit is to nourish relationships – with our family and friends. God comes first, then spouse, children, and others. And just in case you’re thinking, “Well, I work with my _____, does that count?” Not really. Nice try though. We’ll talk more about that later.
            The next margin is for the pursuit of ministry and community involvement. That will look different for each individual, depending on what you’re passionate about and how God has gifted you (Rom. 12:4-8; 1 Pe. 4:10-11).
            The last margin we need around work is rest and play. God created us with the need to rest (Psa. 3:5; Mark 6:31). Studies continually prove sleep deprivation contributes to health problems, depression, and unproductive work time. Rest restores and rejuvenates. God also revives us through laughter and celebrations. He wants us to give thanks for the bounty of His blessings, and share those good things with others (Neh. 8:10).
            The Bible has a lot more to say about work and the margins we need to keep it in balance. I listed only a few references in this post (did I hear a sigh of relief?). I hope you’ll read them on your own. If you want to do a bit more study, I recommend using a Bible website such as www.biblegateway.com. If you type in key words like: work, earn, provide, rest, or give. You’ll be amazed at what you learn.
            In the next post, we’ll take a look at what margins are needed for healthy finances.