8 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.
11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
“If I don’t do it, who will?” Have you ever asked yourself this question? The idea behind this question is that we cannot trust someone else to take care of the things we have been given responsibility for. In many cases, this question comes from a place of pride that no one can accomplish a given task as well as we can, or in the way we would prefer. This question often carries a similar motivation to the idea of “looking out for number one.”
In Exodus 20, as one of the Ten Commandments, God commanded His people to rest one day of the week. It is noteworthy to consider the specific people and details listed in this command. The list of individuals covers anyone who was capable of work. Not only were the Israelites commanded not the work, but they were also commanded that their servants were not to work. Not even their animals could work! Additionally, anyone staying with them—even non-Israelites—were commanded to stop working. The point in this command was direct: no work would be done.
The tension in this command is as present for us today as it was for the original hearers. If no one is working, how are things going to keep going? For those who trust in God, we are to regularly pause from our own efforts to acknowledge that we ultimately rely on God, not ourselves, to accomplish what really matters in our lives.
There is no doubt that we are called to a good work ethic. Colossians 3:23 exhorts us, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” We work hard because it honors God, but we are also to pause from work because it honors God. In resting regularly, we are intentionally saying that even our best efforts won’t provide everything we need in life. It is God alone who can do this and who has met our greatest needs in the finished work of Jesus. As we pause and rest, we acknowledge our own weaknesses as well as the greatness of God, who is Lord over all.
• Where does your life show evidence that you believe you have to provide all things for yourself?
• How might you intentionally seek rest this week to rely on God who is your true provider?
• Pray and thank God that He is sovereign over all things. Ask Him for greater trust in Him and His work for you.