Links Daily Devotional

The Good Rest

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:27-29, ESV)

I hear this verse quite often in Christian circles; I, however, do not do a good job at obeying this command from Jesus found in Matthew. I know these words to be true, but I have a hard time putting it into practice sometimes.

Everyone needs rest.  When I was playing my competitive golf, I always took at least one day off a week (typically Monday) to recover, regain strength, and to regroup for what was to come. I know of many golfers who do this in their weekly routines. My coaches and parents encouraged me to take these breaks, and I was very thankful for their advice.

In the business circles, I hear something along the lines of this said often, “You have to work hard in order to rest,” or “Rest can only be found for those who work hard.”  This is true; however, these statements cannot be applied to these two verses found in Matthew. Let me dive into what I am talking about.

After studying this passage, I found a very important thing about the people with whom Jesus was speaking when he referred to “all who labor and are heavy laden.” He is specifically talking about “those oppressed by the burden of religious legalism imposed on people by the scribes and Pharisees” (ESV Study Bible).

When I discovered this, it was so interesting to me. Before, when I thought of this verse, I thought Jesus was specifically talking to believers and how they can always come back to him to find rest from any hurts, pains, hard times, and busy weeks.  Yes, this is absolutely true and a good takeaway from this verse.

However, let’s return to what Jesus was talking about when he spoke these words. He was telling these people (and now us) to quit performing and trying to earn your way to heaven. Quit trying to attempt to receive more love from God by bogging yourself down with good works. God knows our heart. He wants us as we are. Broken, dirty, messy people are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, by a big God who loves us just as we are.

I have one more thought for us to keep in mind regarding this theme of performing to earn God’s love versus living out of who God says that I am (righteous, holy, redeemed, perfect—these qualities are blanketed on us by and through Christ). Religious legalism (I don’t mean to be harsh) is a slap in God’s face (if that is possible). When we believe the lie that we can earn our salvation or earn more of God’s love by our good works, then we are telling God (and others) that what his Son did on the cross for all of humanity was not quite enough. When the legalists convinced people that Jesus plus works was the way to salvation, they were telling God that his perfect Son’s death was not fully satisfactory for their salvation, but that they would take care of the rest with their works. Brothers and sisters, this is a deviation from the truth.  However, it is a lie that I revert to all of the time.

My hope and prayer for all of us is that we learn to walk with God, trusting him in everything, and knowing what his Son did for us on the cross 2,000 years ago was enough to bring “many sons to glory.”  May we come to him, our Savior and Lord, and find rest in his name.

Rosson Anderson
July 2, 2015
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