A vacation is a time of rest, and God set the example of rest in Genesis 2:2–3 when He ceased from creating. In Exodus 20:8–11, God tells His people that they are to rest from their labor on the seventh day—to take a weekly vacation, as it were. The Sabbath command is repeated throughout the Old Testament. In the New Testament, we see Jesus fulfill the meaning of the Sabbath. Christians are no longer under the law of the Sabbath, yet the concept of rest is still important. Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man, meaning that God gave it as a gift to us (Mark 2:27). Rather than the burden it had become in Jesus’ day, the Sabbath was intended to be restorative. In resting we declare our dependence on God, exercise our faith in His provision, and receive refreshing.
Jesus did not take a vacation from His ministry, but He did take times of refreshing and also ensured that His disciples had the same. At a time when “so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat,” Jesus says to His disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31). Clearly, if Jesus sought time away, taking needed breaks is a good thing.
Balance is necessary when planning vacations. Rest is a gift; more than that, it is a human need. We cannot survive apart from the rhythm of work and rest, as can be seen in our daily requirement for sleep. At the same time, rest is not the purpose of life. We must work as well. Ephesians 5:15–17 says, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Moses prays, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12), and Jesus says, “We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us” (John 9:4). Clearly, the goal of our lives is not to vacation. But we do need time away from our daily routines in order to receive refreshment from God. God did not design us to work or to minister 24/7, 365 days per year.
Another matter to consider concerning vacations is stewardship. We are to be good stewards of our time and finances. It is important to spend our resources on things that have true value. A good vacation will be restorative to our souls and help us continue in our labors for the Lord. A vacation is also a reminder that we depend on God—not ourselves—for our livelihood.
Financial stewardship is an important issue in relation to vacations. It is good to consider finances closely when thinking about vacations. Is the expense of the vacation within our financial means? Is the expense proportional to the value of the vacation? Are we being responsible in other areas of finance (paying our bills, giving to the church, helping others, etc.)? This is not to suggest that vacations must be done “on the cheap.” It is not wrong to spend money—even a lot of money—on an experience. The payoff in terms of relationships, replenishment, or joy may be well worth it. The key is to submit our financial decisions to God and to steward our resources well.
Vacations are not only permissible for Christians to take, but they are also necessary. As to what exactly a vacation entails, that is a matter of conscience, resources, and practicality. A vacation can be simple or sophisticated, but, as Colossians 3:17 says, “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”