We live in a workaholic world that wants it all. A world that, while always striving, is dissatisfied and restless. And confused, for it also wants everything already packaged and effortless!
And this is a mentality that we often carry into spiritual life. We’re inundated with spiritual activities: meetings, conferences, cruises, and retreats. And while Christian articles presenting easy steps to spiritual success abound, we’re often over tired, stressed, and lacking God’s rest. And that’s because true rest takes work.
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience, (Hebrews 4:9-11).
Striving to rest? Though seemingly contradictory, this work-rest paradox is key. For just as hard work aids sleep, spiritual application helps us enter God’s spiritual rest.
God makes us his children, But it’s up to us to become disciples.
Which means discipline and work. Yet, we sometimes fall into trying to build our spiritual life effortlessly. Not that we can earn salvation — God’s free gift of grace.
But we face two choices in our Christian walk.
We can either work and strive to grow. Or do the bare minimum of just going to church, reading a chapter, saying a brief prayer. Until our conscience pricks us, reminding us that we’re not developing Christlike qualities or knowledge.
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, (2 Peter 1:5-8).
Perhaps, even after years of walking with Christ, we still lose our temper too easily. Or if asked to state the main theme of a Bible book, we find ourselves asking, “You mean it has one?” And we realize we’re not growing. But why?
Because as Peter states, we don’t make every effort. And that sad knowledge keeps us from entering God’s rest.
God makes us his children. But it’s up to us to become disciples. Spiritual growth only comes with God’s help, yet we must do our part. WE must make the effort. By learning the Word. By making ourselves accountable to God and others. By holding tightly to the faith. And by spending time in prayer.
So a major key is keeping our sights on spiritual goals.
In losing sight of those, we focus on other things. And longing for rest, we try to fill the void by achieving, by doing, or having. Either with so much church activity that it leaves little time for anything else. Or with getting ahead in the world, whether necessary or not.
Good things, and often necessary, but far less important than our spiritual life. And rather than making every effort to grow in grace and knowledge, we lean back and relax, as though already arrived. Even though we still lose our temper too easily. And we still don’t know the theme of Galatians, or Romans, or Ephesians.
God does not give thee the flower and the fruit of salvation, but the seed, the sunshine, and the rain. He does not give houses, nor yet beams and squared stones, but trees, and rocks, and limestone, and says: Now build thyself a house. Regard not God’s work within thee as an anchor to hold thy bark firmly to the shore, but as a sail which shall carry it to its post. (J.P. Lunge, The Biblical Illustrator; in the Public Domain).
The Christian faith is not an anchor to hold our boat firmly to the shore. It is a sail to carry us to our destination — that of becoming like Christ.