Deuteronomy 5:12–14 (ESV): 12 “ ‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.
What would it be like for you to completely cease all of your work for 24 hours? No spreadsheets or Zoom meetings. No mopping or laundry. A full stop. A dead halt.
Of course, there would be volumes of work piling up for you at the end of that day, but right next to the work… for many of us… we’d also feel volumes of anxiety piling up right alongside the work. In fact, we may even fear the piles of anxiety more than the work.
In other words, work is how we fight off the anxiety of our hearts. It’s the sandbag levee holding back the fear that we aren’t significant or valuable. And, anxiety is simply another word for unrest. An anxious heart is a heart that isn’t resting… which is the very thing God commands us to do in the Sabbath. This shows us that the command to cease working goes far deeper than our actions.
You see, God’s commands don’t just challenge our external behaviors, they challenge our idols, which is to say, they challenge all of the unseen rival and rebellious loves operating in our hearts. When God commands us to cease from our work for one day a week, he isn’t just shaking up our behavior, he’s shaking up our heart. He’s revealing how our hearts have found rest in what we accomplish more than we find our rest in him alone. He’s showing us that our inability to stop working has less to do with our love for others and more to do with our love of self.
By revealing our restless heart, he’s saving us not simply from physical exhaustion due to overwork, he’s also saving us from the eternal exhaustion of making our productivity the center of our worth and value.
Isaiah 43:1 (ESV): But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
You are not what you do. You are God’s if you belong to Christ. This is your identity. This is your worth. So, with this encouragement, let’s confess our sins to God.
Our Gracious God and Father,
You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you. We confess that we often look to our own work, our productivity, and the execution of our plans as the supreme evidence of our worth. We even bristle at your commands to rest from our work, and this too shows that we still consider ourselves the boss of our lives. It reveals that we don’t trust you to provide everything we need.
Father, we want you to bless the work we do. We want our work to be a blessing to others, and so we know that our work must be done in faith and obedience. Forgive us for where we fail in that obedience, and cause us to trust that your commands for us are good.
We know that if we say “Amen” to this pray and yet regard sin in our heart this prayer will be ineffectual, so we confess our individual sins to you now in silence. Hear our prayers.
In Jesus name we pray, AMEN!
ASSURANCE OF PARDON – John 3:16-17
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.