28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." - Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus invites us to come to Him for rest when we are exhausted from carrying our heavy loads. Notice there is no condemnation in His offer, He doesn’t point out that we’ve been carrying our burdens all wrong, He doesn’t ask what has taken us so long to bring to Him, He doesn’t expect us to do or fix anything first, He just says come as you are and I will give you rest. Religion tells us we have to do certain things first to belong, but Jesus has never said that. He just says come. Our God is full of compassion and abounding in mercy, and He deeply desires to give us the rest we long for. He never grows impatient with us or walks away in disgust. He never grows tired of us, and He will never quit because He’s had enough of us. He will never fail to give you all that He’s promised because you’ve messed up. He promises you rest when you are overwhelmed, and He wants to give that to you. He doesn’t expect you to do anything to earn his compassion and mercy, it is freely given. He doesn’t even shake His head at us when He watches us place our burdens at His feet for a few moments, then pick them right back up and walk away again. But what He does offer us in these verses is the way to find His rest, and so many of us gloss right over the instruction.
The mistake we make is we think when He’s calling us heavily burdened people to Him for rest, He’s going to take the burden from us. We pray and we pray for Him to remove the burden - we think that’s how we will find rest. If you just get this off my shoulders, I will find that rest and peace. My life would be much easier if you were to take his from me, so here...please take this and make my burden light.
But that’s not what He’s saying here at all. He wants us to learn from Him - He says take my yoke, and learn from me, for my yoke is easy. A yoke is a way to carry heavy objects - it’s a long pole stretched across the neck and shoulders with a place to carry heavy objects, like buckets of water, off either end. He’s tell us to look at His yoke and pay attention to how He carries his load. While we’re feeling the weight of all that we’re carrying on our neck and shoulders, He is saying His yoke is light.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart”. He’s telling us we will find that rest when we learn to carry as He carries. What He’s offering is not a lift, but a way to carry. He’s not offering to take our burdens, He’s showing us HOW to carry our burdens. And how are we supposed to carry them? By being gentle and lowly of heart. Jesus doesn’t struggle with being heavily burdened because He doesn’t carry things like we do. We create the weight of our burdens by how we choose to carry them.
Jesus offers two ways to lighten our burden - be gentle and be humble. One is an outward attitude - be gentle to other people, and the other is an inward attitude, be humble. In other words, to make your burden with people lighter, be gentle with them: and to make the burden lighter with myself, be humble.
Now, when Pastor James was preaching this message, I thought to myself, “sure, I could always use the reminder to be more gentle with others, and I would definitely benefit from the reminder to be more humble...but how exactly are either of those going to help me with these burdens I carry?” Then he asked us to ponder how much of the burden we carry is the result not being gentle or humble, how much of what ends up in my bucket to carry is because I want what’s due me or I want the other person to act or be a certain way? How much weight is added to my bucket because of my harsh tone, my complaining, my expectations, how I want to be thanked, viewed, treated? Ouch. Far too much.
Once again, I have so much rolling around in my head about how we fill those buckets when we’re not gentle or humble - I want to spend days on just those two words: gentle and lowly, but that will have to wait until tomorrow for this post is once again growing too long. For now, just ponder this: sometimes God lets us feel the weight of the burdens we create to show us we are carrying things wrongly. Those burdens leave us overwhelmed and exhausted, but He invites us into His rest...not to take the burden from us, but show us how to lighten the load. I have been carrying some of the burdens I carry for so long, dropping them at His feet for a time, then picking them right back up again, that I’ve grown weary of the routine. The cancer diagnosis has just added another bucket to put down and pick up. I want to change that by learning how to be gentle and lowly as He is so that my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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