Many countries around the world have labor laws that mandate employers give a certain number of paid time-off days per year to workers. Finland, France and the UAB actually require 30 days of paid vacation. The United Kingdom, Japan, Italy and Ireland all require 20 days of paid vacation. In the United States and China, none is required. Most employers do offer paid vacation time, but they are not required to. Thus, the average American worker takes 13 vacation days annually, compared to 25 in Japan, 28 in the United Kingdom, 35 in Germany, and 42 in Italy. (NationMaster)
Said a different way, Americans work 137 more hours a year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers.
Our first reaction to this is likely one of pride. "Of course we work harder . . . that is why we get so much done . . . that is how we achieve the ‘American Dream.’ We often take pride in our busyness and obsessive work. Our favorite response to, "how are you?" is "really busy." The response helps us to feel important and significant.
As usual, God’s Word conveys different priorities than we have. In God’s original Top Ten (different from this one), God lists a whole host of ills that we would definitely agree with: murder, stealing, adultery, coveting your neighbors spouse or stuff and so on. But there is something on that list that we prefer to ignore. In fact, it seems wholly un-American today. In most folks’ numbering system, God’s commandment #4 says, "the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work." (Exodus 20:10) "Sabbath" comes from a Hebrew word meaning "to cease." To God, it seems, being a workaholic and failing "to cease" from work is just as bad as being a murderer or adulterer.
God created Adam and Eve and gave them a job, which was to care for and manage the rest of God’s creation. But before their first day of work, they were given a day off. They were told to rest. They rested into their work. Today we are almost embarrassed to say that we took a nap or sat on the couch with our family. But to God rest is not simply something we experience when we do not have enough to do, it is something we pursue to live rightly. Mike Breen and Walt Kallestad say rest helps us to be human "beings" as opposed to human "doings."
For God, rest is not to be our ending point, but our starting point. Rest fills us up and reorients us. Let us resist our "busy" desires to accumulate massive amounts of kindling, so that we can be people that efficiently produce eternal treasures. (Matthew 6:19-21) Rest is not only healthy, but it is commanded of us.