Staff Corner – Greg Spires – Teaching Pastor
A compliment that any employee or volunteer would enjoy hearing is, “You sure are a hard worker!” Nobody enjoys having a job dragged out for longer than it needs to take. Having a worker who knows how to work with diligence until a job is done is highly valued.
Anyone who has hired a contractor to do work on their home knows the importance of diligence. There are few things as frustrating as having a two-day job drag on for weeks; if there is a delay on the project, we understand if it is related to some unknown variable that couldn’t be anticipated. However, we aren’t as understanding if the delay seems connected to a lack of diligence and hard work.
In Romans 11, the Bible presents the prophet Elijah as an example of a hard worker in the Kingdom of God since God has not rejected His people, Israel. Romans 11:3 quotes from the prophet himself as he defends his hard work for God, “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.”
It is interesting to note what happened to Elijah before he said this to God. We discover in 1 Kings 19:4-8 that God led Elijah into the wilderness where God provided food, water, and a place to rest. The angel of the Lord told Elijah in verse 1 Kings 19:7, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.”
Elijah’s hard work was a good thing. However, Elijah was missing the better thing: rest in the Lord because it is the Lord that does the work. The Apostle Paul understood this reality and quoted what God told Elijah (Romans 11:4), “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” Elijah worked hard. However, God worked harder and was more effective. Elijah needed to recognize that part of faithfulness to God is a willingness to rest in God’s ability to carry out His purpose.
This same thing happened in the life of Christ, too. He was visiting Mary and Martha in their home. Martha busied herself with preparations in the house while Mary sat listening to Jesus. Martha complained to Jesus that Mary wasn’t helping. His words are surprising in Luke 10:41-42, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Where does this rest in the Lord Jesus come from? It comes from faith. To trust Jesus is to trust that He does all the work of redemption for us. Since this is the case, we should consider what it means to live as followers of Jesus. What is the better thing for us? What is the “good portion” we must choose which will not be taken from us?
Rest is more than merely a lack of activity. Rest is taking the initiative to enjoy God. It might go without saying: it is tough to enjoy the Lord if we define life with God as never-ending toil and religious labor.
A stunning sunset. A delicious meal. Watching children or grandchildren play. Hearing a beautiful piece of music. An afternoon nap. Do we mistakenly assume God puts up with these things rather than appreciate the truth: God enjoys these more than we do? It is in moments like these (and countless others) where we can have our hearts lifted in love to God. We might even quietly whisper under our breath, “Wow, thank you, Lord, for this.” When God lifts our hearts in the joy of rest, don’t rush off. Linger there with the Lord. The duties of life are good and right, but we must not miss the better thing, the good portion – the joy of the Lord in the rest He worked tirelessly to provide.
I look forward to being with you this Sunday as we celebrate the work of God in Jesus Christ together! This Sunday, we will be seeking God through His Word in Romans 11:1-10.
Praying with you,