Journal Entry ~ 10/28/17

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 doesn’t struggle with being heavily burdened because he doesn’t carry things like we do. We add so much weight to our burdens because of the way we choose to carry them. He tells us to learn from Him, His yoke is easy because He is gentle and lowly of heart. He gives us two ways we lighten our load:  when our burden involves other people, we are to be gentle, and when our burden is personal, we are to be humble. 

Gentleness is defined as a sensitivity of disposition and kindness of behavior, founded on strength and prompted by love.  So, when we are struggling in a trial with someone else, our disposition should be one of kindness and love, not overly rigorous, not unduly concerned with our own rights, not preoccupied with what’s due us. But how often do we choose kindness when we’re deep in a struggle with another person?  Think about those difficult relationships in your life that you carry as burdens, the ones that are heavy and weighing you down....maybe your burden is a challenging co-worker, or a broken relationship with your sister, or perhaps it’s a heavier burden that you carry with another person - your marriage is struggling, or you have a wayward child. How much of your burden is increased because you have not been gentle with that person, because your demands or expectations were not met, because your tone was harsh, because yet another argument ensued?  How much would change if we only approached that person with gentleness and kindness?

If your burden is that you are trapped in a loveless marriage, and you long to have a husband who treats you as the daughter of the King you are, you may be able to lighten that load if you choose a gentle attitude.  Perhaps we've read in Scripture of the way your husbands are supposed to love you, how they are supposed to lead your family, and your expectations for him increase; or perhaps you have a friend with a loving, doting husband, and you wonder why your husband can not manage the same care for you.  You get frustrated or you begin to despair that you will never have the marriage you desire. The burden you carry is a loveless marriage that does not have God in the center of it. You long and you pray for God to move in your husband, but you see no change. Jesus challenges you in these verses - how much of the burden you carry is because you are not gentle with your husband? 

Far too often, when we’re in difficult relationships, we withdraw and nurse our wounds rather than stepping forward to be the difference we want to see in the relationship. Years of hurt cause us to turn away from the person rather than toward them. But how much of the hurt is caused by our unmet expectations?  We want them to behave in a certain way, and when they don’t, we lash out in anger and then we withdraw. What if we were to completely change our expectations, and no longer look to that person to fulfill our need for a husband to be or to do anything in particular, but simply accept them as they are - another broken soul in need of grace upon grace. How often do you ask yourself what is the most gentle and loving thing I can do for this man to show him how much I care for him and this marriage?  

We are told in 1 Peter 3:1-2 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.  Is your conduct respectful and pure toward your husband at all times? How would your marriage change if it was?  I just love the reminder in this verse that as wives that we are to win them *without a word*. How many of us need to stop nagging our husbands with all our expectations of who they should be and what they should be doing, and simply find ways to gently love them more?  The truth in Scripture is that women are powerful instruments in changing the lives of their husbands. We are called to be submissive to our husbands, or to willingly place ourselves under them, and we are called to be respectful and pure in our conduct - not judgmental, not self-righteous, just pure and respectful. Just a little further down in 1 Peter 3, we read this in verse 4: but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. The beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit toward our husbands would go a long way toward breaking the struggle of living in a loveless marriage. A gentle woman is considerate and unassuming, they are not pushy or demanding, they are not combative or nagging.  We have all been the wife that stirs the pot, we need to choose to be the wife that stills the storm. Oh, how our burdens are heavier because of our lack of gentleness. 

Perhaps your struggle is with a wayward or prodigal child. How often do we heap more into our basket of burden because of the way we response to our children in their struggles? We see them walking down a path full of hurt and consequences so we rush in to try and stop them, often with a harsh word.  We end up spending so much time trying to save them from their consequences that their burdens become our trials. Our expectations for what we think they should be doing come out in our criticism, our scorn, and our tone when we speak to them. Our children are in a very real spiritual battle, and instead of praying over that battle, we enter it when we constantly ride our children for their faults, then we push them further away with our consistent nagging and pointing out of failures.  How much would change in our relationships with our children if we were gentle, if we stopped nagging them, pointing out their poor decisions, telling them what they need to do or what they’re doing wrong?  A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  - Proverbs 15:1. How would our relationship with our children change if we chose a gentle answer over a harsh word in response to their choices, or their lack of choices?  

We need to see our children as God sees them - a work in process.  God isn’t finished with them yet. Our harsh tones communicate to our children that they are a lost cause.  God doesn’t see the one who stumbles as a lost cause, we shouldn’t treat them that way. We need to allow anyone who’s struggling room to be a work in progress, give them the space to make mistakes and allow God to be the one to work on saving them. We need to stop covering for them, and simply cover them in prayer and love.  As parents, we can get caught in the trap of enabling our children to escape consequences or allow them to feel entitled to their sin - that’s not loving them. We rescue them from the very thing that God is trying to use to transform them. God cannot save them if we continue to step in and do it for Him. Then, after we save them, we end up frustrated or angry because we needed to bail them out again, or we act surprised when they make the same mistake again.  We heap on another whole layer of guilt and shame, pushing them further away. What if we were to change our response to one of gentleness and mercy?  Our natural reflex with our children when they are running counter to what they should be doing is to bring down the heavy hammer of judgment. Ephesians 4 instructs is: Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. We don’t avoid speaking the truth to them, we don’t stand in the way of God’s discipline, but we do speak to them in a manner that is gentle and loving not judgmental and self-righteous. 

If our burden is with other people, we can lighten our load by choosing a gentle attitude.  Our ability to show gentleness is increased by choosing to trust in the waiting. We carry these burdens with our loved ones and we want them lifted right now - we want to see our husbands or our children changed. Don’t you know that God wants to give us the desires of our hearts more than anything, and he would love to be able to give it to us right now? But if it is not happening yet, their hearts are not ready, or your heart is not ready. He is at work getting our hearts ready to receive all that he has for us. Be patient. God held off the promised land from the Israelites for 40 years because they were not ready. Be patient in the waiting, and focus on you over that person.  Focus on how you can lighten the burden you carry by choosing to be gentle.

Pondering all that He has for me in these verses today, I’m taking a hard look at the way I treat the people in relationships I find challenging. Far too often I can point to a harsh tone of unmet expectations. The hard part of a cancer diagnosis is that it can well up feelings of self-righteousness that I deserve something extra - I have to consistently fight that urge. I want to be gentle with the people in my life at all times. I am so thankful for the truths found in His Word that reveal the areas I still need to grow. 


Press on ~ you are loved 💗

Comments

  1. Very well-said, my friend! These are truths I needed to hear. Thank you for grounding them in God's Word. Loves and hugs to you!

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