Imagine yourself getting up some morning at 5:00 and working straight through until 11:00 that night. You drag yourself through the door with just enough strength left to pat yourself on the back for the work you plowed through in eighteen hours. Then one of your inlaws, who has been tagging along with you all day, wags a finger in front of your bloodshot eyes and says, “What you are doing is not good.”

“Not good! What do you mean, ‘not good?’ Man, didn’t you see the work I turned out today?”

He shakes his head, unimpressed. “It’s not right. You’re going to wear yourself out.”

“Oh?” Pause. A moment’s deflation. Then a surge of well-earned pride. Why, you might be in line for a respectable nervous breakdown! After all, to work yourself to death is, well, practically like being a saint, isn’t it?

The Bible warns us about the sin of laziness, but it also has some words to say about work that is unnecessarily exhausting. “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep” (Ps. 127:2).

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden,” said Jesus, “and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28–30). Jesus saw no virtue in working under an unnecessarily heavy burden. He offered to teach us how to change heavy burdens into light ones.

Many of us who work today in the name of Christ have not learned this lesson. Instead of showing the world the rest to be found in Christ, we scurry and worry, sweating beneath a heavy burden. Instead of offering an alternative to the world’s rat-race, we duplicate it in our own ...

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