For those who are in Jesus Christ, he is our Sabbath – our rest. The author of Hebrews makes that clear in Hebrews 3-4. Also, Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)
There is a danger, though, in assuming this “rest in Jesus” means “no hard work” or “no labor.” In fact, the opposite is true. Life in Christ is hard work on behalf of others – service, works, labor, struggles, etc.
Here are just a few passages that demonstrate and encourage hard work from Jesus followers for the purpose of helping others:
…But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:26-28 ESV)
If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:14-17 ESV)
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:9-10 ESV)
For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. (1 Thessalonians 2:9 ESV)
So, good works and hard labor are not bad words for a person who is in Christ. In fact, this type of labor on behalf of another should be the normal part of the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Jesus does not give us rest apart from hard work. Instead, he is our rest in the midst of our toils and labors.
We shouldn’t fool ourselves. This kind of hard work and service is exactly what Jesus meant when he said, “Love one another.”