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The Importance of Rest in the Christian Life

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from Darryl Dash’s new book 8 Habits for Growth: A Simple Guide to Becoming More Like Christ.

Many of us suffer from hurry sickness. We rush through our days and never have enough time to get everything done.

The Importance of Rest in the Christian Life

Dr. Suzanne Koven, who practices internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, writes:

In the past few years, I’ve observed an epidemic of sorts: patient after patient suffering from the same condition. The symptoms of this condition include fatigue, irritability, insomnia, anxiety, headaches, heartburn, bowel disturbances, back pain, and weight gain. There are no blood tests or X-rays diagnostic of this condition, and yet it’s easy to recognize. The condition is excessive busyness.[1]

When hurry becomes our default, our relationships begin to suffer. We begin to skim through life. The problem goes deeper than our schedule. As Philip Nation notes, “The hurry that we inflict on ourselves is not from a chaotic schedule. Hurry is a sign of a chaotic heart.”[2]

Hurry affects our relationships and souls. Rest helps to break the pattern of busyness, and is essential for physical, relational, and spiritual health.

Three Reasons to Rest

The Bible gives us three good reasons to rest.

1. God Commands Rest

In the creation week, God rested. God instituted a pattern of work and rest that continues today. It’s built into the very fabric of creation, pointing to the ultimate rest that He intends for us to enjoy one day.

When God gave His people the law, He included a commandment to rest. He didn’t give us this command to burden us. He gave this command out of love.[3]

While scholars debate whether this applies to us today, we agree with Christopher Ash: “Even if the Sabbath is no longer an old-covenant religious obligation, we are simply foolish to behave as though we no longer need a day off each week.”[4]

Put simply, God created us to function well when we work and rest.

2. Jesus Promises Rest

Jesus promises rest:

“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.” (Matt 11:28–30)

Rest isn’t just the absence of work. Jesus pictures us working, except with one difference: we become yoked, like oxen, with Him. Jesus calls us to give up self-reliance and to be refreshed as we rely on Him. He speaks not just about physical rest but rest for our souls. Our relationship with Jesus allows us to move from self-reliance to restful dependence on God.

3. We Need Rest

Scripture teaches that we are dust (Gen. 3:19). Unlike God, we tire. We are finite creatures. We are dust. We need sleep and refreshment. John Piper reminds us:

Sleep is a daily reminder from God that we are not God. . . . Once a day God sends us to bed like patients with a sickness. The sickness is a chronic tendency to think we are in control and that our work is indispensable. To cure us of this disease God turns us into helpless sacks of sand once a day.[5]

Rest teaches us about our limits and leads us to rely on God.


Excerpted from 8 Habits for Growth: A Simple Guide for Becoming More Like Christ by Darryl Dash (© 2021). Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission.

 

[1] Suzanne Koven, “Busy Is the New Sick,” Boston.com, July 31, 2017, http://archive.boston.com/lifestyle/health/blog/inpractice/2013/07/busy_is_the_new_sick.html.

[2] Philip Nation, Habits for Our Holiness: How the Spiritual Disciplines Grow Us Up, Draw Us Together, and Send Us Out (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2016), 118.

[3] McGraw, Ryan. The Day of Worship: Reassessing the Christian Life in Light of the Sabbath. Reformation Heritage Books. Kindle Edition. location 1955.

[4] Ash, Christopher. Zeal without Burnout: Seven keys to a lifelong ministry of sustainable sacrifice. The Good Book Company. Kindle Edition. location 466

[5] John Piper, “A Brief Theology of Sleep”, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/a-brief-theology-of-sleep

About Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is author of 8 Habits for Growth: A Simple Guide to Becoming More Like Christ. He also serves as pastor of Liberty Grace Church in Toronto. He is also cofounder of Gospel for Life, and director of Advance Church Planting Institute. He has a Doctor of Ministry degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and has over 25 years of ministry experience. Darryl is married to Charlene, and has two adult children, Christy and Josiah. You can find Darryl online at DashHouse.com.