Ad Gloriam Dei

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corintians 10:31

"Let us pursue the things which make for peace and those by which one may edify another"- Romans 14:19

"As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." - Proverbs 27:17

Thursday, April 27, 2006


This post is very apt as I had trouble sleeping tonight for no apparent reason! (Hence all the posts, although they are all articles or talks that I had previously produced.)

Sleep is a very important part of our lives. The average person spends a third of their life lying in bed, and although we appear to be doing nothing, yet without it we would die. However, it’s something we don’t give an awful lot of attention to, because it seems so mundane; but it has a profound influence on our lives and so our sleeping habits should be carefully considered.

The medical profession have much to say about sleep, such as the importance of being regular in going to bed and getting up, the beneficial effects of exercising in the afternoon upon our sleep, the importance of relaxing before bed, the fact that long lie-ins on the weekend actually make you more fatigued and that sleep should be regained through getting to bed earlier, etc. (See But what does the Bible have to say about sleep?

The Need for Sleep

We all know that we need sleep, (most adults require 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night) but knowing that need, do we pay sufficient attention to it? Lack of sleep affects our work, our worship, our health, our temperament and our susceptibility to temptation.

By not taking care to get sufficient sleep the night (or nights!) before, we become sluggish, weak, and less able concentrate and think. This means we are less able to perform the work to which we have been called. Is this being faithful to our employer and also to our Lord (Col. 3:23)?

Going to bed late also affects our quiet time, because we can feel too tired, or doze off in the middle of it, or have a longing for bed which distracts us from our devotions, or maybe we are tempted to stay in bed too long! God is jealous for His worship and would be treated as holy in it (Exod. 20:4-6; Lev. 10:3). Are we neglecting His worship by neglecting our sleep?

Sleep is a period when the body repairs itself and our brains reorganise information. Therefore if we don’t get enough sleep we’re injuring our bodies. God created us with a body and a soul, and He has called us to look after our body – but more than that. Paul writes, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Cor. 6:19,20.) Indeed, we are to offer up our bodies as living sacrifices to God (Rom. 12:1).

Sleep deprivation also has a detrimental affect on our temperaments and makes us susceptible to temptation. It leads typically to irritability, anger, impatience, suspiciousness, depression, feelings of discouragement and an enlargement of our problems. Do any of us want these things? Yet by neglecting our sleep, we leave ourselves open to all of this. Moreover there is a desire to relieve the pressure of these feelings through fulfilling the lusts of our flesh, and when temptation comes, our weakened bodies can leave us less capable to endure it.

Although sleep deprivation has detrimental effects, there are times when we must lose some of our sleep because of our responsibilities. Parents looking after young children often have to miss out on sleep out of love; others have to lose sleep because of their work. Pastors also experience sleeplessness because of their responsibilities, just as Paul often did (2 Cor. 11:27). Our Lord even went without a whole night’s sleep because he was devoted to preparing Himself in advance of ordaining the Twelve Apostles (Luke 6:12).

Therefore we can have legitimate reasons that keep us from sleeping, but in many cases it is just carelessness. Are you endeavouring to get enough sleep to glorify God in your life?

Spiritual Causes of Sleeplessness

Apart from illness, responsibilities and lack of discipline, all of us, at some time or other, lose sleep because of worry, fear, grief, guilt, bitterness, anger, and sometimes broken relationships. These are spiritual problems which require a spiritual remedy.

The unbeliever has to cope with these problems on their own, but we have a Father who cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7), a High Priest who sympathises with us (Heb. 4:15) and a Spirit who intercedes for us (Rom. 8:26) – and so we have hope. All these problems can be dealt with. God always provides a way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13). We need to take the appropriate action to deal with them. I hope these few points may be of some benefit, although I realise these things can often not be easy to cope with.

Are you worried, grieved or afraid? Come to God in faith and prayer, “casting all your cares upon him, for he cares for you.” (1 Pet. 5:7). “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6,7). If we do these things we will be able to say with the Psalmist, “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psa. 4:8). It is God who gives “his beloved sleep” (Psa. 127:2).

Are you troubled by guilt? Then get out of your bed, repent of your sin, confess it to God, asking forgiveness in Christ, believing that He will truly forgive you if you come with sincere repentance and true faith. If you have wronged another, resolve to ask forgiveness and make restitution as soon as possible.

Are you filled with anger, hatred, or bitterness? God says, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” (Eph. 4:26.) Therefore we are to deal with our anger before bed. If it is a minor thing, then “turn the other cheek” (Matt. 5:39) and cover over the sin of your brother (1 Pet. 4:8). If you have been wronged, deal with it as Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:15-20. If our anger is sinful it must be repented of.

God always provides a way to deal with our problems. So seek, and you will find (Matt. 7:7). As Christians we are not alone. There are always other believers who are prepared to help you, especially your pastor.

Go to the Ant, You Sluggard!

Although some people don’t get enough sleep, others get too much! God has no place for sluggards (Prov. 6:6-11; 10:4,5; 19:15; 20:13; 24:30-34; etc.). The Bible clearly condemns laziness and overindulgence in sleeping as sinful. God calls us to redeem the time because the days are evil (Eph. 5:16), not to waste it in bed. Christians are those who are of the day and not the night.

It can be very easy to point the finger, but as the Bible says, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall.” Let us all take this warning to heart: “‘A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,’ then your poverty will come as a robber, and your want like an armed man.” (Prov. 24:34). We can all be so easily tempted to waste time in bed.

The Sabbath: A Day of Rest, Not a Day of Sleep

As Presbyterians, we believe that “[t]he fourth commandment forbiddeth… the profaning the [Sabbath] day by idleness…” However, some would have us believe that this is not so, for the Sabbath is a day of rest, that is, a day on which we can spend a lot of time sleeping. This cannot be substantiated from Scripture.

The word Sabbath means “rest” or “cessation.” From the context of God’s actions at Creation and the forbidding of work on the Sabbath in the Mosaic law (see also Isaiah 58:13,14), it is quite clear that this is a rest/ ceasing from “worldly employments and recreations”. The Bible also positively commands us to keep the day as sacred to God by worshipping Him on it. Therefore the Sabbath is for worship, not sleep.

That is not to say that it is always sinful to sleep on the Lord’s Day. Christ showed quite clearly that works of necessity and mercy are permitted on the Sabbath (Matt. 12:1-14). Therefore when we really need sleep, God allows us to sleep for the health of our bodies. However, this is for those who have a legitimate need, e.g. those who have been kept up all night by a crying baby, not for those who go to bed late every night because of socialising or lack of discipline. Does our social life come before the worship of God?

Thank God for Sleep!

As Christians, we ought to be constantly thanking God for all the blessings which He showers upon us, even by expressing our gratitude to God before others. Therefore we should thank Him for sleep.

Those of us who do sleep well, and are refreshed by it, should often consider what a blessing it is to be able to do so. Many people are not able to sleep for various reasons including M.E., arthritis, hyperthyroid conditions, migraine, restless legs, worry, grief, guilt, shift work, even crying babies and lambing sheep! Other people do not have a refreshing night’s sleep due to problems like sleep apnoea, which means that a person may sleep for eight hours and yet feel they have only slept for two.

If you do sleep well, you should thank God in the morning for blessing you in this way. But if you do have problems sleeping, cast your burden upon the Lord, who alone can help you, and give thanks: for you shall share in a rest, which is more blessed than any sleep, even the rest of heaven, in glory with God.

P.S. I'm off to bed. I've made myself sleepy enough!


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