This is to continue on from the article on work (Is Hard Work Against Grace? 18 June 2019) where we have shown that work is not sin, that working for a living is not wrong. On the other hand, there is truth behind the restful increase. That life isn’t about grinding and hustling.
It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.
Psalm 127:2 NLT
This is where all the confusion begins. First, we say that working for a salary is good, now we are saying that working hard is useless while resting is good? So which one is it? Do we live a life of work? Or do we live a life of rest?
First and foremost, I want to point out that the Biblical instructions for good hard work is not about Salvation. However, Bible instructions about REST is (for we cannot work for our Salvation, it is only through faith in Jesus Christ that we are saved). The problem here is that people use the truths about God’s rest (to salvation) and apply it in our daily life.
Here is where I clarify that notion of rest. Again, this is applied to daily living and not about salvation.
Resting in Him is not about dropping all responsibilities, doing nothing and yet expecting great things to come over to you. I’ve come across Christian Counselling clients who, by misinterpretation of rest, literally refuse to work, even stating that the Bible is against work. They believe that: “We should be living our lives in His rest and all His grace will abound on you.” Now, although it sounds Biblical, the effects of that interpretation is nothing but slothfulness.
this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
2 Thess 3:10
To rest in Christ is about being free from fears and anxieties while engaged in effective meaningful work or the absence of guilt while engaged in physical rest (my definition/interpretation).
When you are in this restful state, you are not doing things out of fear. You are no longer doing things like a slave with a whip aimed at your back. In psychology, we would say that you be doing things out of intrinsic motivation. This is what it means to be working in His rest. It is the absence of VAIN WORK.
What about the things that I really have to do but don’t like doing?
There are a lot of things we have to do in this life even if we don’t like doing it. That is just a fact, a reality of life. I hate paying my bills but I have to pay; and no, I cannot pray them debts away out of grace; that would just be unrighteous. Even The Lord Jesus paid taxes to the government, and I don’t think He enjoyed doing that either. I am sharing this here to clarify the point that doing things you need to do (ie: errands, work, etc.) is not an insult to God’s grace and it is not a sign that one lacks faith in God. Again, God’s rest is not about shying away from responsibilities.
The Bible does not in any way tell us to not do things if you don’t like doing it. Do you think that Moses enjoyed going to war? Or that Jesus Christ Himself liked going to the cross? They wanted to do it (intrinsic motivation) but that doesn’t mean that they enjoyed it. This is the modern day notion of sacrifice, which we Christians aren’t a stranger of.
A lot of things in life we have to do, even if we don’t enjoy it.
I see this the same as the people begging the government for a job. They want one but it doesn’t mean that they like to work from 9 to 5 everyday. They want it because they need it or because they have to do it.
The same way as what we face in God’s Kingdom; being a Christian doesn’t mean that you will enjoy this life living by things that you only like – that is one major misconception. Being Christian means you have more work to be done for The Kingdom; more work you have to do despite the fact that you may not like it. Though some may not like their duties, we still want to do it for the glory of God.
Doing and fulfilling your duties in peace and enjoyment is The Rest here on earth. I also do not discount literal rest from literal work like sleeping and going for a holiday. All these spiritual and fleshly rests come from God – they are a gift from Him, so accept them openly! Always remember that rest connotes that you were working before, for rest means to cease from work. Rest will not be rest if you were already sleeping for the entire day.
THE VAIN WORK: BACK TO SALVATION
The Work which The Bible speaks against is vain work: Works of the hands which we believe will “add to our points” in the eyes of God. There is no such thing. So the next time you find yourself forcibly reading the Bible for an entire week or forcibly studying for an exam to gain a good mark; let me tell you that Heaven itself does not care about it.
All these vain work are designed to arbitrarily please either our parents or ourselves – not God. Besides these 2 parties, I don’t think anyone cares about our ‘hard works’. Hard works are vain, they are a waste of time and energy. It reminds me of Bruce Wayne training before his fight with Superman. His training didn’t mean anything! Batman either had kryptonite or he didn’t. What were all those weight lifting for?
The same goes with our relationship towards God. Do you believe in Jesus Christ or not? For what’s the use of doing all these good works, all these muscle building, if you don’t believe in Him? Aren’t you just doing it for yourself then? On the other side of the coin, what is the point of working hard for His love when He already loves you? Can we still work for our forgiveness when we are already forgiven? Pray for His mercies when He has already died for us? None of these “works” will make sense.
The Bible is against these works of the flesh (vain works) because it will empty us and lead us to burn out. All of these will be for nothing. For what shall we profit if we gain the whole world but lose our soul in the process? (Mark 8:36)
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