It was an exciting day in Utopia, Ontario, Canada yesterday!
Our home is on the robins’ flight path as they head south and return north. Yesterday I looked out my north facing window to see robins everywhere in the backyard! They had stopped for a bite to eat and to rest their wings before continuing their journey. I have to say that it warmed my heart to see them.
This week, as the earth in our part of the world begins to break out of its winter rest, I was reminded that rest for humanity is not limited to a season, but rather, should be part of our daily lives. CREATION Health, the international program created by the Florida Hospital, defines rest in 3 categories: Physical, Mental and Spiritual. Here is a story found in 1 Kings 12:1-7 (NKJV) that gives us some insight into how resting certain words can provide rest (in all three of these categories) for ourselves and those around us.
When King Solomon died, his son, Rehoboam, became king.
And Rehoboam went to Shechem, for Israel had gone to Shechem to make him king. So it happened, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard it (he was still in Egypt, for he had fled from the presence of King Solomon and had been dwelling in Egypt), that they sent and called him.
Then Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying, “Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father, and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you.”
So he said to them, “Depart for three days, then come back to me.” And the people departed.
Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who stood before his father Solomon while he still lived, and he said, “How do you advise me to answer these people?”
And they spoke to him saying, “If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.”
As I read the words of the elders who counselled Solomon and who now sought to provide wisdom for Rehoboam, it seemed to me to be good wisdom for us today. Jesus calls us to be a servant to the people around us, to serve them, to provide Scriptural answers, to speak good words to them.
To speak good words means we must lay to rest words of condemnation, words of harmful criticism, hurtful words, confusing words, words of despair … to lay to rest every word that is not filled with the love of God, that is not reflecting, revealing and resembling the character of God.
Following the advice of these elders will make our description of the love of God believable. The evidence will be the change in our behaviour. This is the convincing proof of who Jesus is - our life-transforming Saviour (Acts of the Apostles, p. 313)
The elders gave King Rehoboam this advice so that Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel would be his “servants forever”. In our case, being a servant to the people around us, serving them, providing Scriptural answers, speaking good words to them, helps the Holy Spirit to lead them to serve Jesus forever. This is one way we can help the Gospel be alive in the world!
By making the decision to speak only good words, we rest our physical bodies from the upset of negative emotional responses; we rest our minds from the turmoil of negative thoughts and words; and we rest our spirits from the battle between speaking good words in love vs the harmful words our human hearts want to shout.
This doesn’t mean that there won’t be times when we must speak a word of correction, but by cultivating the habit of speaking good words, even our words of correction can become pearls of wisdom and comfort.
Are you wondering if King Rehoboam heeded the elders’ words? The story continues in 1 Kings 12, from verse 8. Unfortunately, verse 8 describes what some of us do from time to time.
May we begin to think of rest as more than just physical rest. Jesus’ rest embodies our full being. May we fully surrender to His care, by His grace and for His glory, forever and ever. Amen.