“Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My load is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NASB)
“For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest,” (Hebrews 4:10,11a)
“Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”
(2 Peter 1:3 NASB)
Living in our fast-paced, highly driven society, it is easy to get caught up in the hamster cage of life producing lots of motion with little real progress. Unfortunately, we can find ourselves allowing it to spill over into our spiritual lives. We can get so caught up in trying to please the Lord and earn His favor that we lose sight of who He is, what He has done for us and why we are here. We become disconnected from Him and distracted resulting in striving in our own strength causing weariness and discouragement. God has called us to rest not toil. It is a rest that is the result of total dependence upon Him. He freely gives us everything we need to serve and to flourish in Him (2 Peter 1:3 cited above). He wants to lavish on us (Ephesians 3:20). That is His nature and the nature of the Kingdom which is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). When we put our faith in the death and resurrection of Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, we enter into rest (Grace). It is a rest from trying to earn salvation and God’s favor in our own strength (Law).
Below is a story to illustrate where we can find ourselves in contrast to what God has for us.
Jack was a man who worked hard all his life trying to make a living. He worked around the clock never taking a vacation hoping that one day he could afford to take the trip of a life time. The trip that would give him the peace and rest he so desired. Every time his savings got to a promising level something would happen that would consume it. He would then find himself once again working hard to rebuild it and so the cycle would continue. One day between his two jobs, he sat down to read the newspaper and an advertisement caught his eye. A charitable organization was offering a two week cruise on a luxury cruise ship to exotic ports for free. One just had to apply and see if their name would be selected. Jack felt it was too good to be true but found it intriguing.
So, he decided to check to see if the organization was legitimate. To his surprise, he found that they were legitimate and have been known to do this in the past. Jack had never won anything in his life. Everything he had ever gotten was through hard work but he decided to apply anyway. Time went by and he forgot about it when one day, he received an envelope. Thinking it was an advertisement, he went to discard it when the return address caught his eye. He recognized the name of the organization and remembered the contest. He slowly opened it assuming it was a consolation gift certificate or a donation request. To his amazement, he discovered that he had WON THE CRUISE! Not only did it include the cruise but it also included the airfare, four land excursions, and a gift certificate to a clothing store that would outfit him for the cruise life. Though it would cause him to miss two weeks of work, he couldn’t pass it up. It was a dream come true! He noticed, however, that there was no mention of provision for food. So, being the resourceful person that he was, he decided to bring his own food. He could bring canned food, bread, and peanut butter and jelly. He did not mind. He would just be happy to be on the boat enjoying the peace and relaxation.
The time came to take the trip. He had gotten his clothes via the gift certificate and was prepared to go. So he took the flight then boarded the ship. The people all looked wealthy and his room was luxurious. He felt he was out of his league. So, he was glad he had brought his own food. There was no way he could afford to buy anything to eat on that ship. Every day he would enjoy all the amenities but when he saw everyone going to the restaurants and buffets, he would return to his room to eat his own food. After about a week, the food began to run out till all he had left were peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Though he was grateful for the trip, he had become weary of the peanut butter and jelly. He decided to splurge and see how much the buffet would cost. Not wanting to embarrass himself, he decided to ask the lady in the cabin next door if she knew the price of the buffet. To his surprise, she seemed perplexed by his question. Thinking he offended her, he tried to ask it again in a way that would seem less personal. Finally, she said to him, “Don’t you have a ticket that allowed you to board this ship?” He replied in the affirmative. Then she said, “Well, all the meals including the buffet and the Captain’s ball are included in your ticket! There are no additional costs for them!” Jack was astounded! No longer concerned about his dignity, he exclaimed, “You mean to tell me that all this time I have been eating canned food and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when I could have been eating at the buffet and the restaurants?!!” So, for the final week of the trip, Jack enjoyed all of his meals including the midnight buffet. He was grateful without measure over the gift that had been freely and lavishly given to him. A gift he had not earned.
How many of us can identify with Jack in our Christian life as he sought to rely on his own efforts in the midst of a gracious blessing? We accepted the invitation to salvation but somehow still feel there is something more we must do. So, we put pressure on ourselves and others to serve more or to follow certain rules to please God.
Jesus’ death and resurrection secured a gift for us that provided for us a place in the Kingdom of God. We are adopted as heirs/sons and daughters with all the rights and privileges of heaven (Galatians 4:5). A gift we did not and could not earn (Ephesians 2:8,9). In Matthew 11, Jesus invited those who were weary and heavy-laden to come to him and find rest. It was a rest from the yoke of the Lawof Moses. They were to exchange that yoke for His yoke which was one of graceand a relationship leading to peace and rest. It was a rest from the demands and curses of the Law. So it is for us today. Instead of toiling there is trusting. Instead of striving there is rest, peace, and provision. He turns our sorrow into joy, our mourning into dancing, our doubts into faith, and our selfishness into love. Jesus said that He is the door of the sheepfold and they who enter through Him “will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9). He also said that He has come that we may have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10b). The Psalmist said, “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name sake…. Thou (God) dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Thou hast anointed my head with oil. My cup overflows.” (Psalm 23:1-3,5 NASB). It is not the will of God for us to be full of worry, anxiety, fear, stress, offense, resentment, insecurity, anger, unforgiveness, pride, jealousy, selfishness, idolatry, distractions, etc. It is because of these things that we feel disconnected from God causing us to strive.
The Christian life is simple. Place your trust in Jesus for salvation. Learn of Him (discipleship – Matthew 28:19,20). Depend on Him (Abide in Him – John 15). Then you will bear fruit (Christ likeness –Love) and benefit from all that God has for us (John 15:7 & 16:23,24). Jesus said that all the Law and the Prophets are fulfilled in this: that we would love the Lord our God with all heart, soul, and mind and our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40).
The cry of the Father’s (God’s) heart is to put our trust in His Son, Jesus by faith for the forgiveness of sin. Then by faith, live our life from that place of trust and dependence and enjoy the privileges of being heirs of the Kingdom of God. Anything else is living below our privilege. It is like eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on a cruise ship not realizing that we have full access and provision to the unlimited resources of heaven. 2 Peter 1:3 cited above, states that everything we need for life and for godliness has been given to us by God’s power. It is by Hispower that we live and serve. He has given us His Holy Spirit so that God’s nature can be manifested through us (Galatians 5:22,23). So, cease striving and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10) and enter His rest. Let us pray.
“Dear God, thank You for Your love that has been expressed through Your grace towards me. Thank You for making it possible for me to be a part of Your family and Your kingdom. Thank You for giving me an imperishable inheritance. I confess that I have been toiling trying to earn your favor never feeling that I am good enough. I confess that I have been living out this life in my own strength. I am tired and weary. This day I surrender all my cares and worries to You and receive Your strength, power, peace and rest. Cleanse me and fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that I may glorify You, experience all Your benefits and fulfill all the responsibilities of being a citizen of Your Kingdom. Thank You for loving me, filling me with your love and giving me rest. In Jesus’, name. Amen.”
Article Written by: Shermaine Jones