Labor In Rest – Now if that doesn’t sound like a contradiction in terms! But it’s Biblical. In Hebrews 4:11 we’re exhorted to “be diligent” or “labor” to enter into the rest of God’s salvation. In fact, Jesus told the people who followed Him: “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you”.
However, nowhere does God suggest that once we are saved we are to simply fall asleep! While we indeed do rest in Christ, there is also a harvest to reap, which Jesus said is “plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
The Greek words most frequently used for “labor” in the New Testament mean, “to feel fatigue, to work hard, toil, be wearied”, and they carry the idea of “pains”. It is not coincidental that the usually painful process of bringing a child into the world is termed “labor”! Likewise, laboring for the Lord is not painless. Thrilling? Yes. Rewarding? Yes. But to tell others that serving the Lord is without effort or fatigue or discomfort is not being totally honest.
The apostle Paul noted other believers who labored on behalf of the saints, and he talked about his ministry as a labor. He told young Timothy to especially acknowledge those elders “who labor in the word and doctrine.” Paul gave recognition to Epaphroditus as a “fellow worker,” and to Epaphras as one who labored fervently in prayer. Furthermore, Paul taught the Corinthian believers that our rewards at Christ’s judgment seat will be according to our “own labor.” Now that should make us break out in a spiritual sweat! Even agape is called a “labor of love”.
Sometimes we push ourselves for Jesus and it doesn’t seem to make any difference at all. In fact, things may even ‘go sour’ at times. Then the devil plies his tools of discouragement, lack of vision, and frustration. In essence he whispers, ‘Give up. Quit now. It’s not going to succeed, and you’ll just make a fool of yourself.’ If that’s you today, saint, stop right now. Check your motives and confess any self-centered desires. Ignore the ‘apparent failures’ and get back on the job, for “your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”