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Can We Live a Life of Ease?

Posted on September 12, 2023

Let’s be honest: life can be very difficult and tiring. There are days where I just want to relax and do nothing. This got me thinking: what does the Bible say about living a life of ease? That’s what most people want. They want to enjoy their life. They want to sit in the porch swing and watch the sunset. They want to relax at the beach. And of course, they want to eventually retire and spend their final years traveling or doing things they’ve always wanted to do. Are such things condemned in the Bible? 


To find the answer, I did a word study of the word “ease.” The word is found 20 times in the King James Bible, but the particular usage we are looking for is found only 9 times. Of those 9 times, there are four different Hebrew words used, and one Greek word. In other words, the word “ease” doesn’t always mean the same thing. Also, we might need to look at the context of the passage to determine what the Bible means. In most cases, the Bible is negative when speaking of ease, but on two occasions, it is positive. 


The Negative Side of Ease


In Amos 6:1, God says, “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria…” The Hebrew word for “ease” here is sha’anan (it is the most common usage of ease), which means “to be complacent, insolent, proud.” God is condemning His people for being so complacent that they won’t even trust Him—instead they are trusting other sources. If you are living a life of ease that seeks the trust of others over God, then that kind of lifestyle is condemned by God. It is wrong (this same Hebrew word is used in Psalm 123:4, Isaiah 32:9-11, and Zechariah 1:15). 


Next, notice what God says in Jeremiah 48:11, “Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity…” Here the Hebrew word is sha’an, which is closely associated with the previous word. It means “to be at rest, to be secure.” That sounds good! But hold on, look at what the verse is saying. God is condemning Moab for settling down amidst its luxury, and because of that, the nation has failed to accomplish anything. So if you are living a life of ease that causes you not to do anything for God, then that kind of lifestyle is condemned by God. It is wrong. 


Next, we turn to Ezekiel 23, in which God condemns Samaria and Jerusalem for their adulteries. Notice this phrase that is mixed in with all the condemnation: “And a voice of a multitude being at ease was with her…” (v. 42a). This time the Hebrew word is shalew, and it means “tranquil, in a bad sense, careless.” So God is saying that both Samaria and Jerusalem (the two capitol cities of the two nations) are guilty of living careless lives with pagan people! So if you are living a life of ease that causes you to become careless and worldly, then that kind of lifestyle is condemned by God. It is wrong. 


Finally, the last negative side of ease is mentioned by Jesus when he tells the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:16-21. This man had such a large harvest that he decided to store it all up for many years and “enjoy the easy life.” That sounds like retirement, doesn’t it? Notice: “And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry” (v. 19). The Greek word for “ease” here is anapauo, which means “to take rest, repose, refreshment.” That sounds good. But hold on, the parable is not over. Jesus says, “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (v. 20-21). 


The lesson should be clear. If you want to make a ton of money so that you can “enjoy the good life,” then that is selfish, and it will result in wasted years. You don’t want a life of ease for any other reason than for yourself. You want to lay up treasures for yourself. This kind of life is condemned by God. 


The Positive Side of Ease


But we’re not done. There are two specific verses in the Bible that talk about the positive side of ease. First, let’s look at Psalm 25:13, “His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth.” The Hebrew word is tov, and it means “to do well, do good, prosper.” Context is needed here, and if you look at the previous and following verses, you will see that David is talking about a person who fears the Lord. God blesses and prospers the person who fears Him. But this doesn’t promise a life of ease, but that his soul will be at ease—he will have peace. 


The other instance of a positive ease is found in Jeremiah 46. This chapter is all about judgment against Egypt. Egypt will be judged by God and eventually taken into captivity by Babylon. And then God transitions to talk about His people: “But fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, and be not dismayed, O Israel: for, behold, I will save thee from afar off, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and be in rest and at ease, and none shall make him afraid” (v. 27). We have seen this word before—it is sha’an, which means “to be at rest, to be secure.” God is saying to His people that at the end of the Babylonian captivity, they will return to their own land and be at rest. This is not talking about living “the good life.” 


So What’s the Answer? 


The Scripture makes it clear that God is against a life of ease when it will result in complacency, laziness, and other sins. If you want to retire just so you can live a life of pleasure, that’s wrong! And if you just want to have an “easy life” in which you pursue pleasure and fun as the goals of life, that is also wrong, and God condemns such a life. 


Now don’t get me wrong, God is not against rest. In fact, God rested on the seventh day of Creation to set the example that we need to rest. And let’s not forget what Jesus said: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Instead of seeking a life of ease, seek to serve God faithfully, and take time to rest. Life is stressful! So when those stressful times come, go to the Lord Jesus for rest—He has promised to give it to you. 


The Bible does not promise a life of ease. But you can certainly have a life of peace, rest, and prosperity if you will be faithful to live for God. That is the most rewarding life you can live—rewarding for both this life and for the next. 

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