How can the true believer be content when spiritual and physical needs are present everywhere we look?
This is an important question that can bridge the gap between two widely separated points of truth in the Bible.
- The Word of God consistently warns against sloth, laziness, and a lack of compassionate actions on behalf of those in need.
- At the same time, regular seasons of rest are commanded and peace is a gift from Jesus. How can we find the dynamic center between two passages such as these?
Woe to you who are at ease in Zion…
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by… disobedience.
So what should we do?
Work until we drop or take it easy in Zion and risk the wrath of God?
To find an answer, let’s think of the rhythms of creation:
- God spoke and it came into being;
- the evening and the morning marked the days;
- the sun was to rule the day and the moon was to govern the night; and
- Some creatures prowl the night and sleep during the day while others go about their lives in the opposite pattern.
God built rhythm into the universe.
A form of classical music composition illustrates this for us. The classical sonata is a form that dominated Western music for centuries. It is a three-part work:
- Exposition, the introduction of themes and other musical elements,
- Development, the composer’s opportunity to create extensive variations on the themes announced in the exposition, and,
- Recapitulation, the final restatement of the music themes, a literal “return to the head.”
Worship, work, and rest, are three movements of the sonata of life.
Each day and each week there must be time for each movement of the sonata:
- Daily worship and Lord’s Day worship in the company of the church, state our life’s themes: the Lordship of Christ, the truth of God, the ever-flowing love and grace of God.
- Our work is the development of these truths in the context of our lives.
- Our rest is the comforting recapitulation of the truths we live by as each day and each week come to a close.
The result of this music is contentment.
We are not content because all the work is done, but because, all is secure in Jesus. With tomorrow’s sunrise, His loving-kindness will be new again. His power-flow into and through our lives will reach its peak to meet the demands of the day. We will make our music and with it change the world.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Romans 13:11-14 NKJV
And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
Ephesians 5:14 NKJV
Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
… I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
1 Timothy 6:6-9
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
2 Corinthians 13:11
Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Lord Jesus, help me navigate these waters. Help me know when to work and when to rest. As in all other things, Your Spirit leads me. I see that I should honor Your Day—the Lord’s Day—as a day of both rest and worship. I know that You have never cancelled the Sabbath Principle. Remind me that with Your Anointing, there is rest inside the work that we do at Your Command because we are merely the earthen vessel and Your Spirit is the power within us. Help me embrace the mystery of contentment with godliness when the need before me is so great and there is so much work to be done. Help me to “labor to enter into that rest.” For Your Kingdom, Lord. Amen.
Words: W.D. Cornell; Music: W.G. Cooper
1. Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight
Rolls a melody sweeter than psalm;
In celestial-like strains it unceasingly falls
O’er my soul like an infinite calm.
Peace! Peace! Wonderful Peace,
Coming down from the Father above;
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray,
In fathomless billows of love
2. What a treasure I have in this wonderful peace,
Buried deep in the heart of my soul;
So secure that no power can mine it away,
While the years of eternity roll.
3. I am resting tonight in this wonderful peace,
Resting sweetly in Jesus’ control;
For I’m kept from all danger by night and by day,
And His glory is flooding my soul.
4. And I know when I rise to that city of peace,
Where the Author of peace I shall see,
That one strain of the anthems the ransomed will sing,
In that heavenly kingdom shall be:
5. O soul, are you here without comfort or rest,
Walking down the rough pathway of time?
Make Jesus your friend ere the shadows grow dark;
O accept this sweet peace so sublime.
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved