A little sleep, a little slumber,a little folding of the hands to rest,and poverty will come upon you like a robber,and want, like an armed warrior. – Proverbs 24:34 (NRSVUE)
The book of Proverbs claims for itself that it’s the offspring of King Solomon and Wisdom herself, but most of the time it sounds like the bastard child of late capitalism and some old-timey schoolteacher. How wise is Lady Wisdom really if all she can offer is 100 different versions of “behave because it’s naughty to be naughty”?
Some parts are worse than conventional or circular, though. Some are downright damaging. This passage is one. So listen up: Poverty is not created by resting. Want is almost never the result of naps. Poverty is mostly constructed by the powerful, the result of the rich hoarding their resources. Want is mostly the result of being born on the wrong side of a society intentionally tilted so that its resources roll in one direction.
Listen up: Hard work is good if the work does good—AND you deserve to rest from it regularly. Producing is good when the products are righteous—AND you deserve to periodically fold your hands and stop producing.
Listen up: Jesus promised an easy yoke and a light burden. He told Martha to put down her Swiffer for a minute. He did not disdain to receive a foot rub when one was offered to him. He took naps when his disciples thought he should be stilling storms.
He also got rather a lot done.
The lie that rest equals failure was created to serve a god that is not God. Ignore it. Be wise. Be like Jesus. Go take a nap, and then get back to surviving and saving the world.
Holy one, grant me good rest and good work. Amen.