“And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (Rev. 14:13).
Here one sees that this life is one of labor with ultimate rest on the other side. This term translated “labor” is from an original Greek word meaning “intense labor united with trouble, toil” (Thayer, p. 355). It carries with the idea of an effort that produces weariness or fatigue. Some might use the phrase “hard work” to convey the idea. Consider some examples of this kind of work that requires great energy.
- Loving. Paul wrote, “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father” (1 Thess. 1:3). It is written in the book of Hebrews, “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Heb. 6:10). The agape love of the Bible is not an easy path to follow. It is written that even after one has developed the quality of brotherly kindness, then he is to add love as the end of his character (cf. 2 Peter 1:7). Truly, love is “the bond of perfectness” (Col. 3:14). Anything done apart from love is of no true profit (cf. 1 Cor. 13:1-3).
- Leading. Paul wrote of his work as an apostle, “Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Phil. 2:16). Again, “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily” (Col. 1:28-29). Paul was well known for his abundant labor (cf. 1 Cor. 15:10; 2 Cor. 6:5; 11:23). Paul wrote of those men who are leaders in the church, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine” (1 Tim. 5:17). Again, “And we beseech you brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thess. 5:12-13). Leading is a work that can easily wear on a person in every way.
- Loyalty. Isaiah wrote concerning the faithful, “And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified. Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God” (Isa. 49:3-4). While it can be troubling to abide loyal to God in a world that turns its back on God in many places, one’s faithfulness to God will be recognized. Later, it was written, “They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them” (Isa. 65:23). Jesus exhorted, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:27). If one seeks to build anything contrary to the will of the Lord, he is laboring in vain (cf. Ps. 127:1). However, when one is abounding in the work of the Lord, there is no effort on that part that is in vain (cf. 1 Cor. 15:58). To enter into that heavenly rest is truly worth making it one’s diligent labor (cf. Heb. 4:11).