Good Morning Brothers and a happy Labor Day,
This is the holiday when we celebrate work by “not” working (or something like that). All I know is that naming a holiday “Labor” seems to imply that “labor” should be happening. Why don’t we call today “Rest Day”, or “Sleep in Day”, or “I’m really going to try not to think about working tomorrow Day”. Today is the day that illustrates to me how necessary it is to rest, so I can hit it hard again tomorrow. In fact, I think we are able to labor, because we rest; not so much that we are able to rest, because we labor. It reminds me of a saying I heard long ago about seeking first the kingdom of God.
We work from our rest; We do not rest from our work.
In other words, because of the “rest” time we spend with the Lord. The “sabbath” time we spend abiding in Him. We are able to receive His blessings, His guidance, and His direction for our lives, which is our service for His kingdom. Our labor, our works, in service of our King, really do matter for eternity. Not so much for our own eternity, but for the eternity of others. All of us received the message of salvation and grace from the lips of somebody else who was being faithful to their call to service. They were able to hear the call because they spent enough quiet time before the Lord to hear the direction. After receiving direction, or their marching orders, they carried out the commandments of the King and we, you and I, heard the message of salvation and submitted to the Lord.
“What happens if we don’t rest?”
Simple, we will not labor. If we do not spend time with Jesus, we will not receive the spiritual nourishment we need to work for the kingdom. We will find ourselves on spiritual welfare. We will hunger and thirst for the remnants of righteousness that fall from the lips of those around us, but this is second hand food. Our spiritual ebb and flow will revolve around those voices we listen to. This may be our preachers, our parents, or our teachers, etc. but whomever they are, they are sharing their food from the banquet with us only to entice us to go to the banquet ourselves. The banquet reserved for us demands that we stop….and rest.
“I thought our works did not matter for salvation?”
There is nothing in life worth obtaining, physical or spiritual, that doesn’t involve works. Case in point, salvation through grace is possible because God labored. Through the works of the Triune God, salvation is available to man. “Unsaved Man” didn’t labor to obtain his own salvation…another man labored (Jesus first, then His followers) to bring the possibility of salvation to that “Unsaved Man”. These are salvation / sanctification questions. The process of sanctification is the process of following Jesus to become more like Him, or to become “holy” and “righteous”. The more we become like Jesus, the more influence for the kingdom of God we wield. The more influence, the more likely others come to a knowledge of the truth. So “works” absolutely matter, however, it is true that we do not “earn” our own way into the kingdom. By eliminating “works”, or “labor” from our spiritual vocabulary entirely results in a welfare state of spirituality. May it never be…!
“So how do I rest?”
Again…simple, spend time with our Lord. Spend time in prayer. Spend time reading God’s Word. Spend time meditating on the beauty of the sunset and imagine God’s hand holding the paintbrush of the rainbow. There really isn’t a right and wrong way, besides NOT spending the time. The key is always time. It reminds me of this passage from Mark 14: 32-42:
They came to a place named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here until I have prayed.” And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled. And He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” And He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again He went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him. And He came the third time, and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough; the hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”
This is a recording of the events right before Jesus was arrested. Notice how He asked Peter, James, and John…His must trusted disciples to stand the watch with Him in prayer. They could not even spend 1 hour in prayer standing the spiritual watch. They were just beginning their process of sanctification. Later in their lives, the Sacred Scriptures records miracles and wonders performed by these men, which means, they learned how to “rest”, in order to labor.
May we all work from our rest…happy Labor Day.