The words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28 are familiar to many Christians.“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Even the how-to of rest, is probably familiar . Many sermons and devotions have been delivered exhorting us to “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”” Matthew 11:29-30. In other words, rest in Jesus, learn from Jesus and follow Jesus. And all this is good and right.
However, several weeks back, as I was reading this passage during my quiet time, I was struck for the first time at the context of the passage. I discovered that it is the preceding verses that provide the foundation of Christian rest (especially in the Christian ministry). It says in Matthew 11:25-27 “At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.””
Simply put, the foundation of our rest in ministry is the sovereignty of God in election (no, I’m not talking about political election); that is to say, God’s sovereignty in revealing Himself to people. And it is an effectual revealing.
The reason why we can rest in the ministry is this: God is ultimately the One whom draws people unto Himself. We may be instruments (and God certainly uses us in the ministry), but we must always remember He is God and we are not. It is incredibly freeing, knowing that God is in charge, God is in control, and His kingdom purposes will be fulfilled. When we are drained, tired, weary and worn-out, and we feel like we can’t do anything, perhaps God does intend for us to NOT do anything, but simply rest in Him.
When we are drained, tired, weary and worn-out, and we feel like we can’t do anything, perhaps God does intend for us to NOT do anything, but simply rest in Him.
Immediately, I can hear the sounds of protests, “Isn’t there a danger people may abuse this and therefore become lazy in what God has called us to do?” But you know what, lazy people won’t become weary and heavy-laden as a result of God’s ministry. It is those who love the Lord and serve Him actively that do.
So dear pastors, leaders, brothers and sisters, do rest. Go sleep. Go watch a movie. Go on a date night with your wife. Go watch a silly movie with your kids. Go read your Bible. Go pray. And trust and rest that God is at work even while we are not.