The gospel of grace is the only message that offers rest from your labors. Manmade religion says do, do, do, but grace declares it is done, done, done. Everything you need for abundant life, from salvation to sanctification, is provided through the finished work of the cross and the ongoing work of the Spirit. God does not need your hard work and sacrifice. Christ alone saves you and keeps you secure to the end (Php. 1:6, 1 Th. 5:24, 1 Pet. 5:10).

Faith is a rest

The gospel of grace is not an invitation to pick up tools, but to drop them. It’s not a job advertisement, but a holiday. It’s not a day of work, but a day of rest. Grace declares, “It is finished, the work is done,” and faith responds, “Thank you, Jesus!” Faith is not something you must do or manufacture. Faith is resting in the restful persuasion that God is at rest and in him so are we.

We have a choice: We can try or we can trust. We can abide or we can strive. We can lean on the Lord or we can rely on ourselves. We can walk after the old way of the flesh or the new way of the spirit. Living in the spirit means trusting the Holy Spirit to do what we cannot do. It is abiding or resting in Christ and bearing his fruit.

His strength vs our strength

We can rely on his strength or ours. When we are trusting in the Lord and relying on his provision, we are at rest and our lives are fruitful and blessed. But when we rely on ourselves and lean on our own understanding, our lives are barren and cursed (Jer. 17:5–8).

The Spirit of Grace will always encourage you to lean into Jesus, while Satan will tempt you deliver, produce, and make things happen in your own strength. The fruit of the restful life is righteousness, peace, and joy, while the fruit of the independent life is struggle, stress, and exhaustion.

God’s grace (his strength) and our works (our strength) don’t mix (Rom. 11:6). Succumb to the pressure to perform for the Lord and you will fall from grace. You’ll be restless. We need to be diligent to enter God’s rest because that’s where real life begins.

So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered his rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:9–10)

The natural mind feels a compulsion to serve the Lord. “Jesus did so much for you. What will you do for him?” But the Son of Man did not come to be served (Matt. 20:28). He came to give us rest. “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

How do we rest?

We find our rest by trusting in the Lord – by bringing him our cares and concerns, and by thanking and praising him in all circumstances. Rest is found in the place of worship. It’s the fruit of being led by the Spirit. As we become more conscious of God in our lives, especially in our trials and tribulations, his peace will flood our hearts. And when you know his peace, your heart and mind will be at rest.

Job vs Jesus

If you do not find your rest in the Lord, you will work. This is what Job did. He brought sacrifices in the hope they would pay for his children’s sins (Job 1:5). This was a dead work. Job was operating out of fear rather than faith (see Job 3:25). To all outward appearances Job was a good man and a good father, but his fear left him restless and anxious.

Job worried about everything, while Jesus slept through storms. Who would you rather follow? Would you rather be a restless wreck like Job or would you prefer to sleep in peace like Jesus? When trials and troubles afflict us, we need to remain in the place of restful reliance on the Lord. Our default reaction needs to shift from, “what can I do to fix this?” to “what does the Holy Spirit say?”

It’s not easy. Get a bad report you’ll be tempted towards anxiety and fear. The remedy for those unsettling moments is to walk by faith and not by sight. Look above your circumstances and see your Father who cares for you. Choose to believe the good things he says about you, and you will not be shaken.

More gets done when you rest

In the old covenant, the priests stood and never sat because the work of the temple was never concluded. But after Jesus offered one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God (Heb. 10:11–12). Now we are seated with him in heavenly places in the position of rest (Eph. 2:6).

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10)

Some have said that grace is a soft gospel for soft Christians. “Grace promotes passivity and laziness.” This was not the Apostle Paul’s experience. No one understood grace better than Paul, and no one worked harder. Grace doesn’t make people lazy; it makes them supernaturally fruitful. In contrast with the law that provides no aid to those who trust it, grace makes us soar.

Understanding how much your Father loves you is the key to finding your rest. When you know there is nothing you can do to make him love you more and nothing you can do to make him love you less, the pressure to perform goes away. Whether you lead a million souls to Jesus or do nothing for the Lord, his unfailing love for you will never dim.

That said, the unconditional love of God gives you wings. It inspires you to take risks and be generous with your life. When you know that you don’t have to do anything to please your Father, you will want to partner with him to do the good works that he has prepared for you (Eph. 2:10).

The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. (Dan. 11:32b, KJV)

Easy and light

This world will try to bury you with heavy demands, but the yoke of Jesus is easy and light (see Matt. 11:30). His sweet words and gentle call to you are your doorway to the life you were born for. An easy burden is one that is a pleasure to carry. It’s living in the sweet spot where your God-given talents are aligned with God’s call on your life. It’s shining in a dark world and doing the thing you were put on this earth to do.

Back to Glossary

Back to Commentary

The Grace Commentary is a work in progress with new content added regularly. Sign up for occasional updates below. Got something to say? Please use the Feedback page. To report typos or broken links on this specific page, please use the comment form below.

Leave a Reply