One sign of pride is an inability to stop and rest. It’s a particular plague for church leaders like me. After all, Sunday is the pinnacle of our church ministry week, and most people in full-time church ministry spend the week getting ready for Sunday.
But God has commanded His people, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). Even if I can’t keep this command on Sunday, I must rest. When I fail to do so, I’ve given in to pride. When, like Martha, I become distracted by my many tasks (Luke 10:40), I’ve taken an arrogant posture toward God. I’ve begun to think that I can earn rest. In those moments, I believe the lie that rest depends on my readiness—on my ability to finish that assignment, return every phone call, or zero out my inbox.
But the truth is, God doesn’t give rest on my timetable. Keeping a Sabbath involves acknowledging our human limitations and submitting to God when He makes clear that it’s time to stop. If we’re humble enough to receive the lesson, the rhythms of the work week—and of the setting sun each day—will teach us to rest even when our work is not yet done. You see, rest doesn’t depend on our work.
Rest is a gift. God gives His rest and peace freely to us without thought of our earning it. As Jesus says, “I do not give to you as the world gives” (John 14:27). And because rest is a gift, it is something for which we should give thanks.
We can give thanks for what rest teaches us about God. When God rested on the seventh day, He showed us His grace by bending down to our level. He didn’t need to rest, but He modeled for us what it means to stop, showing us that we’re made for rest.
We can give thanks because rest teaches us what is most important. It shows us that being still and being with God are more important than our frantic doing.
Finally, we give thanks because rest points the way to eternity. There remains a Sabbath rest for God’s people (Hebrews 4:9). When Christ returns, we’ll beat our swords into plows (Micah 4:3), and wars will cease (Psalm 46:9). On that day, our God will welcome us into eternal rest and perpetual joy.
For this, we rest and give thanks.
Written by Jared Kennedy