Resolve to Rest

I am the Lord your God; walk in my statutes, and be careful to obey my rules, and keep my Sabbaths holy that they may be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.

  • Ezkiel 20:19-20

At the start of the New Year, many will take time to reflect on the past year and make resolutions and goals to meet in the upcoming year – career goals, fitness goals, number-of-books-to-read goals, food goals, habit goals, and the list goes on. But what if we included one resolution that looked contrary to the others? One that isn’t easily quantifiable? One that takes just as much self-control, if not more, to do?

What if we chose to include on our resolutions to rest on the Sabbath?

Rest is complex to flesh out. First, by no means have I arrived. If anything, setting aside time, let alone an entire day to rest, is very difficult for me. There are always dishes to be washed, laundry piles to be folded, an email or text to respond to, food to be prepared, family duties, and the list goes on. I see it as wasted time, when in reality God doesn’t. Second, keeping the sabbath or rest could become legalistic, a checked item to complete. But legalism is contrary to its very intention.

The motif of rest is ever present in the Bible. We first encounter this in the beginning words found in Genesis 2, “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” To be clear, God didn’t and doesn’t need rest because he grows tired (Is. 40:28, Ps. 121:3-4). Rather, God – the creator of everyone and everything – established a good pattern of rhythm at creation – six days of work, one day of rest. Further God, the redeemer of His people – commanded them to remember the Sabbath day by means of rest in the Ten Commandments (#4). God, in his unmatched love for us, gave us rest.

I imagine that during the week, your life in filled full of all the things; but on Sunday, God is beckoning you to press pause and rest. To emulate your habits and rhythms after His. In love, He set the pattern for you. He knows that rest is good for you – physically, mentally, and emotionally. But moreover, rest is good for you spiritually.

When we intentionally step away from all the things undone – God is training our hearts to trust in something someone greater than ourselves, our goals, or time. He is teaching us to trust Him (Pro. 3:1), that He has already provided (Ex. 16:22-30) or will provide (Phil 4:19), that His grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9). And if we consider what Jesus did on the Sabbath when he healed a man (Luke 6:1-11), we see the Sabbath’s purpose clarified, that it embodies compassion, renewal, and grace. The sabbath is meant to bring delight (Ps. 1:2), not be a burden (1 Jn 5:3). Thus, rest is for our good, but ultimately for God’s glory.

On this side of eternity, we will always wrestle with and fall short of keeping the Sabbath/resting well. So, in the here and now, we lean into God’s grace that He gives graciously and freely. As we practice being faithful – not religious – to rest on the Sabbath, we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Beloved, fix your eyes and set your hope on the rest that is promised to you (Heb 4:9-10) when Jesus returns. Know that rest will be part of your inheritance (1 Peter 1:4), and your strivings with work will cease (Rev. 14:13).

NOTE: In January 2023, I read John Mark Comer’s book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry about keeping the Sabbath. If you’re interested in learning more about sabbathing, I whole heartedly recommend his book.

Prayer: Father, you are good and your commands are good and life-giving. I confess that I believe that if I don’t control the time I have, things will fall apart; but things don’t fall apart with you. Help me to trust you as I rest. Meet me with your grace. Thank you that you gave me rest for my good. By your grace, keep me from heartless obedience and legalism. May you alone be gloried.


  1. What are your New Year’s Resolutions? Which one are you most excited about? Which one do you know will be a stretch?
  2. Do you currently keep or practice the Sabbath? If yes, what do those rhythms look like? Have you slipped into legalism?
  3. If you plan to add Sabbathing to your resolutions, think through what resting looks like for you. Pray about those things and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in your pursuit.

Hymn to Sing: O Day of Rest and Gladness

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