Work is a gift from God. He gave us the privilege of working for his purposes, even before sin entered the world. (Genesis 1:26). Work should glorify God and it can bring us great joy, but if we’re honest, work can also feel futile and exhausting. Thankfully, God also gave us rest.
Rest may sound lazy or unspiritual, but Scripture actually talks about several ways in which we should rest. Consider these three scriptural exhortations to rest that God has provided for us:
1. Rest from Physical Labor
God has called us and designed us to rest from physical labor. In the Old Testament we see God’s own pattern of working and then resting:
And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done” (Genesis 2:7).
We are created in God’s image and we should pay attention to his work-rest pattern. However, rest from physical labor should not be excessive. Scripture explicitly warns against laziness in places like Proverbs 6:6-11 and Proverbs 24:30-34. But at the same time, rest from physical labor is definitely essential. We need to rest from physical labor at some point, in some way. Vacations, for example, can be a good thing and a restful break from our regular routine of labor.
2. Rest from Fear, Worry, and Anxiety
We should also rest from fear, worry, and anxiety. Restlessness shows a lack of faith in God. Rest itself is a sign of trust. Psalm 37:7 is a direct command:
“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.”
Or there’s Philippians 4:6:
“Do not be anxious about anything . . .”
The Bible means what it says–do not be anxious about anything. Nothing. We must, in a sense, work to rest like this. “Rest in the Lord,” Spurgeon said, “is a most divine precept and requires much grace to carry it out. To hush the spirit, to be silent before the Lord, to wait in holy patience the time for clearing up the difficulties of Providence—this is what every gracious heart should aim at.” This kind of rest is only possible in Christ.
3. Rest In Your Salvation
Ultimately we rest with hope in God’s salvation. The Bible uses sleep as a metaphor for death for a reason. One day your body and your mind will stop and rest for good on the earth. It could be tonight. It could be tomorrow. And for some that’s overwhelmingly frightening—unless we come to the point where we’re resting with hope in Christ’s ultimate salvation.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Because of the cross of Christ by which He saves us from our sin and fills us with His Spirit, there is rest for us to experience on this earth every moment of every day, a rest that will last for all of eternity.