READ: Psalm 140, Matthew 22, Hebrews 4

WORK AT RESTING

There really is no rest for the wicked. Hebrews 4:6 reminds us that disobedience denies rest–both temporal and eternal. No matter how educated, accomplished, recognized, or wealthy a person is (outside being settled in and nestled into Jesus), there is no lasting harbor. But let us not condemn the unsaved for what they must do by nature; they after all are entering the battle with uncovered head (Psalm 140:7). What about the follower of Jesus? What about those that bear the name Christ who also are restless? How do believers in the finished work of Christ come learn to live at rest?

The Word has to be mixed with faith to be of profit (Heb. 4:2). God’s Word is replete with promises, but they are not formulas or magic pills. God’s promises of rest, deliverance, healing, and peace can neither be bought nor worn like charms. They have to be acted upon in faith. Biblical faith is robust and active. In order to be at rest, believers must actively do what the Word tells them to do. The promises of the Word assume the activity of the hearer.

We must labor at ceasing from our works (vv. 10-11). It seems counterintuitive that we labor to cease from working. The seeming dissonance is resolved however when we realize the difference between working to be at rest and resting to be at work. The former tries valiantly (and vainly) to earn rest and peace; the latter determinedly accepts granted rest and then spends the rest of life gladly sweating, hard at work for the Master. The difference between the two approaches (both requiring labor) is subtle but critical, and there is only one way to know that our labor is on the right side of rest.

We must allow the Word of God to divide and conquer. A most marvelous explanation of Scripture is found in this context of rest and labor. The Word of God is living, powerful, sharp for the purpose of dividing out the false from the true WITHIN US (v. 12). God’s Word is a discerner of thoughts and intents. Being internally convoluted, we lose capacity to know whether we are working to earn rest or working because we have received rest. Only the Word can tell the difference. The Word flays open our interior thinking and motivation so that we can see what He sees [“to whom all things are naked and open” (v. 13)] and then make course adjustments. There really is no hope for us to come to a place of soul and spirit rest outside the Word of God. God’s Word reveals both our legalism and our  laziness. God’s Word alone guides us between these equally jagged reefs and into the eternal harbor of His rest.

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