Hebrews 4:11a (ESV)
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest.
As a boy I took piano lessons from various piano teachers, one of the jobs of my teachers was to get me to work less. By that I don’t mean less practicing, but less working of the arm muscles. Because overworking arm muscles interferes with finger development. I was taught to "make every effort" to train the arms to relax so that my fingers could work freely and expressively. Unchecked tension causes the music to sound forced, weak, and unsteady. It can eventually cause pain, injury, and even the end of a musical career.
I see a spiritual parallel. Christians are cautioned to "make every effort to enter [Christ's] rest". This is not a passive affair. It takes "every effort" to cease from fruitless striving and enter into Christ's rest. As we come to rest in Him, then He can make beautiful "music" through us.
Think of me as a beginning piano student: At my first lesson, I discover that my fingers are so weak that they may make no sound at all — especially the pinky finger. My reaction was predictable. Instinctively, my arm pushes down on the hand in an attempt to compensate. Poor little finger! With such force bearing down on it, it merely collapses on the keys. A little finger cannot develop its potential until the bigger muscles learn to rest. This really does take "every effort" — involving intentional and careful practice.
Do you see yourself as an over functioning muscle? Are you habitually overworking? I'm not referring to physical work. Perhaps you strain your mind with anxiety and doubt. Perhaps you work too hard trying to prove your love-worthiness, or you are habitually working to absolve your sense of guilt. All these besetting habits deplete your energy and squelch God's Spirit.
Perhaps you have a habit of overcompensating for weaker "muscles": You do what others should learn to do. Perhaps you do the thinking for them, or the worrying. Such efforts merely hinder them from growing into maturity. In the long run, the entire Body of Christ suffers.
Just as for piano students, it takes "every effort" to surrender fruitless habits and to adopt new, effective life habits. Really, it's a joint effort involving support, encouragement, mentoring, faith, prayer, and so forth. This is how we come to function harmoniously — and make beautiful "music" together — displaying God's glory to a fallen humanity.
Dear Lord, open our eyes to the fruitless habits of overworking. Help us to completely rest in You and to draw on Your gifts of grace. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
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