Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
We all value our time to rest. We know we need it. Perhaps it seems strange that someone must remind us to do it.
Americans generally have more “free” time on their hands than their ancestors. My work week looks light compared to that of my grandparents. Do we get more rest? No. Surveys suggest the vast majority of us get too little sleep. We have taken our “free” time and filled it up with so many hobbies, sports, shows, and projects that together these things almost become a second job. Sometimes I feel more tired at the end of my “day off” than I do at the end of the work day.
Today we celebrate a day to honor those who work hard and give “working class” Americans a day off. But you can be sure that on “Labor Day” the employees of your favorite store or restaurant will not only be working, they will be bracing for the extra work created by Labor Day sales or Labor Day promotions.
Perhaps it should not surprise us that God had to legislate a day off for his busy, busy people in the Old Testament. “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the ploughing season and harvest you must rest.” (Exodus 34:21) The work load made no difference. People need rest whether there is much work or little. The harvest could be white in the fields, but God commanded a day off.
Perhaps it should not surprise us that God’s people didn’t always appreciate his concern for their rest. “When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?” the people moaned in the days of Amos (Amos 8:5).
Of course, our loving Lord has a greater concern here than bags under our eyes. He’s not just concerned that we have a spring in our step. Those Old Testament Sabbath laws were put to rest when Jesus’ coming fulfilled them (Colossians 2:17). But God still wants us to get the true rest for our souls that Jesus provides.
“Come unto me…and I will give you rest.” We are familiar with Jesus’ promise. By faith we have experienced its truth. Nothing is more refreshing than the times when we put it all down, and he goes to work. While we lift not even a finger, he scrubs and washes us clean of the dirt and filth of sin accumulated by lives of labor in a sinful world. While we stretch and rest our tired, aching souls and consciences, he shoulders our burdens and carries our guilt.
We can find this rest not just one day a week, but every time we go to meet him in his word. Finally, the day will come when this rest is all our life. “Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them’” (Revelation 14:13).
Until that final “Labor Day” let’s find our rest in Jesus’ promises.