Work and Rest

Many people may feel that work is a nothing but a curse that was imposed upon man as a punishment after Adam and Eve sinned and ate the forbidden fruit in the garden.

It is true that man’s work became frustrating and difficult as punishment for what Adam had done, but the concept of work, in and of itself, is not the concept of a curse but of something divine. How do we know this? Scripture repeatedly uses the word “work” to refer to God’s act of creation:

“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” (Genesis 2:1-3)

Work was not the only thing that became more difficult during the fall. Relationships and childbearing were also cursed. Of course, this does not mean that society should refrain from relationships or from childbearing anymore than from work. Rather than seeing these things as curses in and of themselves simply because they are often difficult or frustrating, scripture would have us see them as beautiful opportunities to join with God in creation.

Genesis seems to emphasize the fact that work is divine in the way that it repeats the word “work” multiple times to describe God’s actions, but scripture is equally clear about another important part of life: rest. All throughout scripture, the Sabbath rest is emphasized and reemphasized and is specifically applied to all people.

Many of us who do indeed look at work as a curse have no problem seeing rest as divine. But as with all things, we must of course strive for balance in our lives. The book of Proverbs gives us plenty of warning against resting too much and too often:

“How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? ‘A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest’—Your poverty will come in like a vagabond And your need like an armed man.” (Proverbs 6:9-11)

Some of us want to do nothing but work, and we have to be reminded of our limitations and our need to step back and recuperate and see the bigger picture from time to time. Others of us want to do nothing but rest, and we have to be reminded that while our work here is often cursed with difficulty, it is in reality a sharing in the work of God as He created this world and sent us out with a commission to “fill the earth and subdue it.”

May we all do some work, and get some rest, this week.

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No Room for Boasting

Is the church basically just a group of people who think that they are better than everybody else, because they hold themselves to a bunch of traditions and rules that they think makes them superior?

Perhaps unfortunately that is sometimes the way churchgoers actually feel, but the Bible itself does not describe Jesus’ church that way. In fact, the book of Romans takes pains to make it abundantly clear that the righteousness of the church is NOT about how good they are as people, but rather how kind God has been to pour His grace out on those who will put their faith in Him.

The book of Romans gives us principles such as these:

“There is none righteous, not even one… There is none who does good, There is not even one.”

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.”

“Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.”

The point is that people in the church are not naturally “better people” than those outside. Rather, they are clothed with the goodness of Jesus. “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:27). Church is all about Jesus, and His goodness.

These principles led Paul to say these words in 1 Corinthians 4: “To me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself… Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.”

In other words, Paul was saying that the job of the church is not to figure out who is the best Christian and who is the most lousy, or to brag about how good we are. Instead, judgment belongs to God, and we rest in His promises for those who are faithful.

And yet, while the church is not obsessed with being “better than” other people or figuring out who is the holiest, it is still true that the church strives for moral excellence. In the fourth chapter of 1 Thessalonians, The church in Thessalonica is commended for walking as they should, with the instruction “that you excel still more.” Again in the same chapter they are complimented for the love that they have for one another, yet they are told, “but we urge you, brethren, to excel still more.”

And in an odd way, it is the very fact that the church is justified by faith rather than by works that enables the church to grow spiritually. Because of Christ’s sacrifice and the words of scripture, we can know that we have eternal life (1 John 5:13), and this frees us from negative thinking and constant fear of punishment or failure, so that we can walk down the path of holiness with confidence and joy. We can also be free from the pettiness of comparing ourselves to those around us. It has been said, “it is amazing how much can get done when no one cares who gets the credit.”

The church is not simply a place for “good people” who make all the right decisions in life. It is a place for broken people to find justification by faith, to rest in God’s promises, and to follow Him as well as they can on the pathway of righteousness.

Scriptures and Thoughts on “Peace”

What is the Biblical concept of peace?
Hebrew:
shalom – based on the concept of “fastening” so as to achieve a stable condition. Implies not only the absence of conflict, but also wholeness, tranquility, stability, spiritual soundness, and good health.

Greek:
eirene – the higher spiritual fulfillment resulting from Christ coming into the world. A harmonious relationship between God and man, man and man, in the state, and in the church. Used as a common greeting in all 13 of the general epistles attributed to Paul.

(Romans 5:1) “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

(Mark 9:50) “Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

 “So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.” (Acts 24:16)

Are there things more important than peace?
Apparently, yes.

(Matthew 10:34-36) “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”

(Ecclesiastes 3:8) “…a time for war, and a time for peace.”

Bear in mind that being taken advantage of and injured by others is not a peaceful situation. Perhaps this helps explain (Luke 22:36) “whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one.”

(John 16:33) says “…take heart; I have overcome the world.” Notice, they could have peace not because there was no conflict, but because they had a champion among them who could end the conflict once and for all. Long-term peace is more important that short-term peace.

(Jeremiah 6:13-14) “For from the least of them even to the greatest of them, Everyone is greedy for gain, And from the prophet even to the priest Everyone deals falsely. They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace.” — This seems to indicate that a “superficial” or false peace that seeks to ignore the problems rather than address them is not an acceptable outcome.

(Hebrews 12:14) says “strive for peace with everyone.” Peace ought to be an ultimate goal.

Blessed are the peacemakers, but are there times when it is wise not to get involved?

(Matthew 18:15) “if your brother sins against you…”

(Matthew 5:23) “if your brother has something against you…”

Notice that in both of these cases, you are one of the parties directly involved.
It may be unwise to get mixed up in other people’s business:
(1 Timothy 5:13) warns against the tendency to be “not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention.”

(2 Thessalonians 3:11) also mentions busy-bodies. This word means to “work all-around, i.e. to meddle, going beyond proper boundaries (where a person doesn’t belong); to fixate on what others are doing, instead of doing what the person himself is supposed to do.”

However, there are times for other parties to get involved:
(Philippians 4:2-3) “I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”

How can we find peace when we are troubled?

Seek in in God.

(2 Thessalonians 3:16) “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.”

(John 16:33) “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

(John 14:27; 16:33; 20:19, 21, 26) Jesus repeatedly declared peace to His followers. Find peace in what He is done and its significance for our spiritual future.

(Isaiah 26:3) “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

Through prayer.

(1 Peter 5:7) “casting all your anxiety on Him, for He cares for you.”

(Philippians 4:6-7) “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

What does “the peace that passes understanding” mean?

(Romans 8:26-27) “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Could this be relate?

 How can a church or a family in turmoil work for peace?

Follow the protocols of Matthew 5, Matthew 18, and Romans 14

Notice that being in Christ and in the Spirit together are key:

(Philippians 2:1-2) “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. “

(Romans 14:17) “…for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” And Romans 14 is all about making peace by “accepting those who are weak in the faith.” Sort of like our concept of being the bigger person.

(Romans 15:13) “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

(Galatians 5) “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…”

(Ephesians 4:1-3) “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

(Ephesians 2:14, 17) Jesus is our peace, and He came and preached peace. He made peace possible.

It will require work:
(1 Peter 3:8-11)Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For ‘Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.”

(Hebrews 12:14) “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”

Compromise and perhaps the wisdom to keep a healthy distance:

(Genesis 13:8-9) “Then Abram said to Lot, ‘Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.’”

Think also of the example of Abigail and Nabal,

Or of Solomon and the two mothers

(Romans 12:18) “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Sometimes it may simply not be possible.

(Numbers 6:24-26) “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”

Times of Rest

Dog taking a nap.

We all need periods of rest in our lives. Genesis 2:2 tells us that even God rested from His work when He was done creating the heavens and the earth. He also blessed the seventh day as a day of rest, and went on to instruct His people to rest, as He had done, every seven days.

Why would a perfect God need rest? Surely His muscles were not tired, and His mind was not weary. The fact that God Himself would choose to rest indicates that there is a sacred, special quality to rest that we all need in our lives.

  • It is a time to step back and survey the work that has been done.
  • It is a time to shift focus for a while, so that we may return with renewed energy.
  • It is a time to consider new ideas and concepts with the freedom afforded by a clear and uncluttered schedule.
  • It is a time to remember what things are really important that we may have been neglecting.
  • It is a time for family.
  • It is a time for solitude.

Jesus actually advocated vacation time for His apostles:

“The apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves.” – Mark 6:30-32

Times of rest also serve as times of renewal. What do you need to take a rest from for a while?

  • Work?
  • Television?
  • Internet?
  • Facebook?
  • Negativity?

“Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” – Luke 5:16