Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the 19th century British preacher, once expressed a serious concern about his church members.
It seemed that a relatively small group of his congregation was carrying a heavy load of responsibility, while many—even the majority—were failing to do their share.
So he chose an unusual text for a sermon, Job 1:14…
“The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby.”
He left no one in doubt about his meaning… and I’m sure he heard from the “donkeys” in his church the following week!
Spurgeon was confronting two common groups of people: those whose work ethic is demanding and exhausting—the plowing oxen—and those whose approach is much more leisurely—the grazing donkeys.
So which one are you and I to be? The correct answer is found in the creation narrative, which says, “On the seventh day [God] rested from all his work” (Genesis 2:2).
Not only is it made clear here that God both worked and rested, but in Exodus 20 He also mandated regular rest and meaningful work as necessary for human well-being.
Both are divinely ordained.
Representatives of both the oxen and donkeys were found listening to Jesus as He taught. Some were “weary and burdened”—we would say “stressed or burned out”—and Jesus viewed them with compassion. But He also expressed concern that the workers who were to help the needy were in short supply.
His message was relevant to all of them.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30)
On the one hand Jesus reminded the grazing donkeys who had gone AWOL that they had a burden to carry and a yoke to bear—a calling they were failing to fulfill.
But to the weary oxen, He reminded them that the burden was light and the yoke was easy. Their calling was doable if addressed in the right way.
And to all, He promised, “I will give you rest”—and amplified the promise by adding, “rest for your souls.” Weary bodies need rest. Worn out emotions need healing. Depleted willpower craves renewal.
But what is rest for the soul?
The key is in Jesus’ words “Come to ME” and “take MY yoke” and “learn from ME.”
- Coming to Christ introduces us to a relationship that will develop for the rest of our days… and we can rest in that place of security and blessing.
- Taking His yoke means we gladly link our lives to His and, joined to Him, we walk step by step with Him.
- And learning from Him means we feed on His words and promises, heed His warnings, and obey His commands.
Add all these together and you find soul rest.
Jill and Pete share much more on this fascinating subject in their 6-message teaching series You Need Rest—which is all about what it means to say “yes” to God’s invitation to slow down and draw your strength, energy, and joy from Him.
This series is our way to say thank you for your support to help more people experience Life through Telling the Truth.
Your faithful partnership is such a blessing, as together we share the message of Christ with so many others and invite them to experience the rest only He can offer their souls.
Thank you for your ongoing support—and remember to continually link your life to Jesus so you can experience true rest in Him!