The Bible strongly encourages rest and relaxation. The verb “rest” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “to cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.” Merriam-Webster also defines “relaxation” as “the state of being free from tension and anxiety.” Repeated throughout Scripture, rest is first mentioned in Genesis 2:2–3. These verses describe God resting on the seventh day of creation and, therefore, making the Sabbath day a holy day of rest. The Ten Commandments state to “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8–11). Not only people need rest, but the land needs rest as well (Leviticus 25:4, 8–12). While Christians are no longer under the Old Testament Law of Sabbath, rest is certainly still encouraged. Yes, the Bible encourages hard work and productivity, but it also demands that we rest from our toiling.
God is serious about rest because resting requires us to trust in Him. When we stop working or striving, we give up control over the outcome of our efforts. Rest does not come naturally to us, which is why we are reminded so many times in the Scriptures of the necessity of laying down our work. When we are overworked we are more vulnerable to disobeying God. Hebrews 4:11 invites us “strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” The definition of “rest” applies to our spirits as well. God longs to refresh our spirits and renew our strength. Similarly, we obey God when we release anxiety and tension from our lives and trust that He will take care of us.
The gospel is for the weary and burdened, and by inviting us to cast our cares on Him (Matthew 11:28; 1 Peter 5:7), Jesus offers us a rest that the world cannot. In Christ, we experience our souls relax in the midst of the sorrows, pains, perfectionism, and afflictions that we experience in the world. Jesus is the answer to the law of resting on the Jewish Sabbath, and now we have the freedom to always find rest in Him. We no longer have to spiritually strive to win God’s favor because through Jesus we experience the grace of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). We can rejoice that we have a God who allows our spirits to rest in Him.