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The Spiritual Man, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III

24- There are many types of rest

 

Rest of the body, of the soul, of the thought, of the conscience, of the spirit... and rest from problems... And there is real rest and false or sinful rest...

One might find his rest in a specific hobby or a kind of sport for example, or in a type of art like drawing, music or poetry, or he might find his rest in reading or solving puzzles. There is nothing wrong with all that, as far as it is a correct means. But still, it is not the real rest.

Some may find rest in the enjoyment with friends, companions and acquaintances, with the one family spirit, socializing, chatting pleasantly or cooperating together in a public work. This is a correct type of rest, as far as there is nothing wrong in it. But it is a specific level of rest, and there is one that is higher.

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There is a false rest and a sinful rest:

Ahab the king rested when he managed to work out an unjust plot to take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreebite. Jezebel, the kings wife, helped him in that as she wanted to fulfil his wish even by committing a number of sins. Both did not find rest as God sent Elijah the Prophet to Ahab the king to tell him: In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, dogs shall lick your blood, even yours ( 1 Kings 21:19). And the same thing happened to his wife also (2 Kings 9:9:36).

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One may think that he will find rest by smoking or drinking:

St-Takla.org         Image: Ahab asking Naboth the Jezreelite to give him his vineyard صورة: الملك آخاب زوج إيزابل يطلب من نابوت اليزرعيلي أن يعطيه الكرم

St-Takla.org Image: Ahab asking Naboth the Jezreelite to give him his vineyard

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: الملك آخاب زوج إيزابل يطلب من نابوت اليزرعيلي أن يعطيه الكرم

Or he may take some drugs , then the matter could turn to addiction. And he does not realize that neither smoking nor drinking will solve his problem. But it is another problem added to what he already has. Drugs only

distract him and make him forget his problems for a while. But these problems remain with no solution, adding to them a more dangerous problem which is drug addiction...

Another person may see his rest in the fulfilment of a specific desire:

Such as revenging for himself from somebody who insulted him or harmed him. He will then answer the word with two, then he rests! The same if he managed to defeat his rival. All that is false and sinful rest.

One may also feel inner rest if he fulfilled his desire in grandeur, possession, lust of the flesh or spending time in entertainment and frivolity...!! Or practising the rest of his sinful habits. And by doing all that, he would be destroying himself...

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If that is the case, let us then search for the real rest and how it should be.

 The first mention of rest in the Holy Bible is the verse that says: And on the seventh day God ended his work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all his work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made (Gen 2:2,3). We find here that rest is accompanied by a blessing and sanctification and presents to us an important principle, which is:

The sanctified rest in completing a good deed:

Because God looked at what He had created and saw that it was good (Gen 1:21). And He rested for that. In the same way, we find another type of rest after completing the act of redemption, when the Lord, while on the Cross, said: It is finished (Jn 19:30). He also found rest in saying to the Father:

I have finished the work which You have given Me to do (Jn 17:4).

The spiritual man finds rest deep inside himself when he completes every good deed that has been entrusted to him, and when he completes his service. Like St Paul the Apostle when he said: For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that day (2 Tim 4:6,8).

The Lord Jesus Christ rested when He completed the act of redemption, raised from Hades all those who died in hope and opened for them the gate of Paradise. Then He defeated death by His Resurrection on the dawn of Sunday.

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Therefore we sanctify Sunday and consider it the day of the Lord, the day of the real rest.

Because in it , the Lord gave Man rest from the punishment of sin and from death. And by His Resurrection, He became the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Cor 15:20,23). And so we rest on Sunday. The Sabbath was the day on which God the Creator rested, and Sunday is when God the Redeemer and Saviour rested.

Resting on that day does not mean only rest of the body but also of the spirit.

The spiritual man finds his rest on that day in the house of the Lord, in the Holy Mass with all its tunes and blessing, listening to the Holy readings, the sermon and partaking in the Holy Communion, as we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other sections. He also finds rest in his service on the Lords day. His spirit rests by all that and he does not feel tired in whatever effort his service needs. He remembers what St John the Apostle said in the first chapter of his Revelation:

I was in the spirit on the Lords Day (Rev 1:10).

There is no doubt that when he was in the spirit, he found a heartfelt rest that made him forget the suffering and exile on the island of Patmos and nominated him for this wonderful, divine revelation.

Resting on the Lords Day does not mean laziness and sluggishness and it does not mean that we do nothing at all, as the Pharisees used to interpret the Lords commandment (Deut 5:13,14). The Lords commandment meant worldly work and not spiritual work. Then it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath (Mt 12:12).

Our spirits rest in the Lord and the Lord rests in our spirits.

As it was said in the Psalm: This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it (Ps 132:14 ). God truly rests in the pure heart. He rests in His saints and is also glorified in them (2 Thess 1:10). And as God finds rest in the spiritual man, likewise:

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The spiritual man finds rest in giving rest to others:

He finds pleasure and rest when he comforts others. His heart rests and his spirit rests in each labour of love that he does for others. He finds a heartfelt rest whenever he saves a wretched, gives charity to a poor, shows sympathy towards an orphan, solves a problem for one in trouble or comforts a sad person. He finds rest in the spiritual service that he does, no matter how exerting...

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He does not feel the weariness of the body because his spirit finds rest.

 

 

A fireman takes risk and jumps in the middle of fire and smoke, then he feels great comfort whenever he saves a man from fire. The same with the one who saves a man from drowning. Also the one who does his utmost to turn a sinner from the error of his way and saves a soul from death and covers a multitude of sins (Jas 5:20).

All his work in visiting, discussing, convincing and enduring this sinner. All this sweat would not be felt, but rather, he finds pleasure as he was able to save a soul. And so he feels great rest.

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There is no doubt that the greatest rest felt by Christ was on the Cross.

In the midst of the unbearable suffering of the crucifixion, He felt a rest that was unutterable because He saved Man from death, satisfying the Divine Justice and offering Himself as a burnt offering to redeem all humanity... It is a type of rest founded on pain which He endured because of His love...

That same type of rest was probably felt by the martyrs, considering the difference.

In the midst of their suffering and pain, they used to feel unutterable rest, as they were about to meet the Lord in Paradise, get rid of the bondage of the flesh and the material and be released to the land of the living and the congregation of the saints...

Thus the confessors also and all those who endured pain for the sake of Christ. And so it was said about the saintly fathers, the Apostles, that after they were beaten: They departed... rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name (Acts 5:41) .

The father and mother also feel comfort in all their hard work to bring up their children.

No matter how much physical effort they use in looking after these children, and no matter how they endure exhaustion and waking up at night. Looking after their health and cleanliness, looking after their education and expenses; in all that they feel comfort. It is just like the comfort felt by the mother while carrying a babe in her womb, because God granted her a son, in spite of the discomforts of pregnancy and delivery...

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Rest does not mean only physical rest. It is also rest of the conscience...

Conscience finds rest when it carries out its message, when it does its duty and completes it in the best possible way, without caring at all about the fatigue of the body in order to complete its job and achieve its good aim. And the higher are the aims, the more one gets tired and finds comfort in that. And as the poet said:

Whenever the souls are great + The bodies toil more for their wishes.

And the opposite of that is the one who gives rest to his body and troubles his conscience.

Like the one who gets lazy and misses going to church or to the service, with the excuse of giving rest to his body. This person will give rest to his body but his conscience will be troubled. Or the servant who neglects visiting those whom he serves, or makes his visits to the sick short because of being tired or ignores comforting the distressed. He gives his body rest but his conscience will be tired.

Likewise the student who does not study and enjoys himself with entertainment and rest. He will be troubled later on when he fails his examinations and his conscience will not be at ease because of neglecting his duties. The same with anyone who neglects his work and leans to rest. He will then fail or his superiors would not be pleased with him.

The labour of endurance also gives rest to the soul.

The trouble of the soul in turning the other cheek, walking the second mile, tolerating those who quarrel with you or giving also your cloak to whoever takes away your tunic and not resisting an evil person (Mt 5:39,41). All these types of endurance, although the soul gets troubled at least at the beginning, but the conscience finds rest in carrying out the commandment.

Likewise the one who spends the night in prayer.

He gets up atmidnight to praise the Lord for His righteous judgements. His eyes are awake through the night watches that he may meditate on His word (Ps 119). So his soul finds rest in all the fatigue of the body. It also finds rest in his perseverance and struggle against the spiritual hosts of wickedness (Eph 6:12), and enduring to the end till he is saved (Mt 24:13).

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And in spite of all that, God did not deprive us of the physical rest.

He gave us the Sabbath (Sunday now) to rest in it, physically and spiritually. Because God who created our bodies knows that this body needs a day every week to rest. Therefore the Lord said: The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath (Mk 2:27).

Then you have the right, it is even your duty, to give your body rest from exhaustion and sickness, and to give it its need of sleep. Do not make it sick because of your negligence to health rules, and give it its need of food. But...

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But giving rest to your body should not be at the expense of troubling your spirit.

You: Nourish and cherish your own flesh (Eph 5:29). But at the same time: You discipline your body and bring it into subjection (1 Cor 9:27 ). Do not let it rebel against the spirit. You give the flesh its nourishment but you do not give it its lusts. You give it sleep for rest but you wake it up for prayer, so the spirit will also find rest. And so the spiritual man keeps the balance of rest between the flesh and the spirit.

Many people exhaust their bodies more than what they can endure and stress their nerves also. So they may end up acting wrongly due to their strained nerves which will trouble their spirits. The matter needs wisdom and discretion.

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In giving your body rest, keep it from faults of the soul that would trouble it.

Anger and nervousness are from diseases of the soul and they trouble the body too. The same with restlessness, anxiety, worry and excessive grief. They are all troubles in the soul that also cause trouble to the body. The Lord said as a remedy for that: Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things (Mt 6:34). Therefore, the spiritual man whose heart is at ease and his soul is at peace in the life of faith and submission, by giving his soul rest, he will also protect his body from many diseases.

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And the one who troubles his soul by inner struggle, also troubles his body.

The state of inner division that he suffers from and whatever accompanies it of stressing and contradicting thoughts, that will make the body suffer from tension. The same with the one who suffers from excessive grief. By troubling his soul, he also troubles his body. As for the spiritual man whose spirit, thoughts and feelings move in one direction and his spirit and soul are at rest, his body will also find rest.

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The spiritual man, as he gives his soul and body rest, he does more to give rest to his spirit.

He gives her rest from sins, bad habits and bad temper. He also gives her rest from lusts and surrendering to temptations, from resisting the flesh, because the flesh lusts against the spirit (Gal 5:16:17). He also gives her rest by prevailing in the devils wars by resisting them, steadfast in the faith (1 Pet 5:9). He also gives his spirit rest by offering her the spiritual food that gives her strength and brings her closer to God and deepens His love in her...

He gives his spirit rest by doing nothing that would trouble his conscience.

His spirit will find rest by obeying God and God will find rest in his obedience.

God finds rest in the hearts that believe in Him, that love Him, that do His will and complete His wish, like the angels: Who do his word, heeding the voice of his word (Ps 103:20).

The spirit of the spiritual man finds rest in the communion of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 13:14). So he does not do anything without having the communion of the Holy Spirit in it. The spirit finds comfort when she says to God in every work: Let it be according to Your will. By that she rests and gives rest. How beautiful is what has been said about the Prophet Moses that he made all things according to the pattern shown to him on the mountain (Heb 8:5).

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We move to the last point which is how does man find rest:

If man found rest within, he will also find rest without. If he is troubled inside, it will definitely show on the outside. His look to matters is what troubles him. Therefore St Paul the Apostle said: Be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom 12:2).

One must be convinced by doing good, and so his actions become good.

Ones heart has to rest fully in acting according to the spirit, without any sinful lust to trouble the will. And as St John Chrysostom said: Nobody can hurt a man unless this man has already hurt himself. The one who is at rest on the inside, nothing outside will trouble him. He also does not trouble anyone. Contrary to the non-spiritual man. Trouble is in his nature and his soul is not at ease as the least thing troubles him and he receives it with trouble.

Trouble is within him but it is not due to outside causes.

The spiritual people have been surrounded by many troubling causes, but in spite of that, they were not troubled.


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