God designed us for rest.
In the Old Testament, the Bible commands a Sabbath day, a rest day–labor for six days and rest on the seventh. By the nature of God’s creation, we spend about a third of our lives asleep. We need rest.
But rest isn’t only for the body. We also need rest for the soul.
In the gospels, Jesus called all who were weary and heavy burdened to come to him. “You will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).
We need this soul rest for two reasons: First, because when we realize our sinfulness our first reaction tends to be a desire to somehow pay God back. This is why so many religions are based on works. This is why so many people, even irreligious people, try to make sacrifices and do good things to ease their burdened conscious.
Yet, the Gospel speaks against work for such a purpose. Salvation is a gift, freely received by faith. God did all the work. Jesus died and rose for us. We simply rest in him, no longer striving to make our own path to righteousness. The good works we do in life, then, flow from this rest and don’t lead to it.
Second, we need soul rest because it is easy to lose track of this Gospel reality and the great beauty of God and his grace in the daily grind of life. Distraction and worry are two things that drain a soul and make it weary. Spiritual habits such as meditation (deep thinking) on God’s word, prayer, and praise all help us to rest in Jesus and feed our weary soul.
And as odd as this might sound, we have to fight for our rest. We must remind ourselves of the need for spiritual rest and then arrange our schedules to make it a reality. This is what David spoke to himself in Psalm 62:5–
Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from him.
David had to remind himself to step away from the busyness and the burdens of life and to find rest.
In today’s language, we often hear this spoken of as self-care. But such a principle is not a modern invention. As David said remind himself thousands of years ago, so we must remind ourselves today to take rest in God.
This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2020 Bible Reading Calendar. All Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible.