In his poem “Rest,” nineteenth-century minister John Sullivan Dwight gently challenges our tendency to separate “leisure” time from “work,” asking, “Is not true leisure / One with true toil?” If you want to experience true leisure, instead of trying to avoid life’s duties, Dwight urges, “Still do thy best; Use it, not waste it,— / Else ‘tis not rest. / Wouldst behold beauty / Near thee? All round? / Only hath duty / Such a sight found.”
Dwight concludes that true rest and joy are both found through love and service—something that brings to mind Paul’s encouragement to the Thessalonians. After describing his calling to encourage believers “to live lives worthy of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:12), the apostle gives more specifics.
And the picture he paints of such a life is one of quiet integrity, love, and service. Paul prays that God would “make [their] love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else” (3:12). And he urges believers in Jesus to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life,” to “mind your own business and work with your hands” (4:11). It’s that kind of life, quietly loving and serving in whatever ways God has enabled us, that reveals to others the beauty of a life of faith (v. 12).
Or, as Dwight puts it, true joy is “loving and serving / The highest and best; / ‘Tis onwards! Unswerving— / And that is true rest.”