STRIVING TO REST
Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves], that no one may fall or perish by the same kind of unbelief and disobedience [into which those in the wilderness fell.
Striving and resting, how could those commands be compatible? One minute Paul is telling us to rest and the very next minute, he is talking about laboring and striving. What could he possibly mean? How can we labor for God’s gifts?
Resting is the result of spiritual intimacy, striving in the flesh can be credited to spiritual infancy. Spiritual intimacy is the place of renewal and spiritual enjoyment, the results of the gift of God’s grace operating in our lives. Where does the striving and laboring come in? This godly striving is the action brought on in a person’s life when they recognize their spiritual poverty and their great need for more of God in their life. This recognition results in a hunger for God that manifests itself in a lifestyle characterized by a relentless pursuit of God.
A person seeking after God becomes almost “violent” in their spiritual pursuit.
Jesus described this hungry man like this, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force”. The kingdom becomes their reason to live and manifests itself in a restless pursuit.
You will see this individual over taken by an unquenchable hunger for God’s Word, it will be as if they are a miner, mining for gold as they daily dig into their Bible. Next, their taste in music will dramatically change, sometimes they will appear like an addict looking for their fix, as they chase after God in their worship music that seems to fill most of their time. Church becomes the highlight of their week, their greatest pleasure is that time of corporate worship, hearing the preaching of the word, and sharing with their friends their rich spiritual discoveries of their week.
What will be the results of this “striving to enter God’s rest”? Jeremiah said it like this, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart”. This is the reward for this laboring after God, the final result is an incredible rest that comes from the spiritual discoveries that always come to those who join this spiritual quest. Remember the words of David, echoed by Paul in the book of Hebrews, “Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your heart”. And what is this voice saying, “Come unto me all you who labor and I will give you rest”.