Hebrews 4:11 – Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. (NIV)
As a piano teacher, my job involves training students to work less. That's hard work for them! It sounds like a contradiction, but it's not. For example, overworking arm muscles interferes with finger development. The student must "make every effort" to train the arms to relax so that the fingers can 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 the beginning piano student: At his first lesson, he discovers that his fingers are so weak that they may make no sound at all — especially the pinky finger. His reaction is predictable. Instinctively, his 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 overfunctioning 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.
Romans 14:19 – Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. (NIV)
Prayer: Dear Lord, awaken us to our fruitless habits of overworking. Help us to learn to rest in You and to draw on Your gifts of grace. Give us courage to "make every effort" to form habits which empower us to live effectively — and in that way to bring You glory. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "O Master Let Me Walk With Thee" (Lyrics)