By Allen White
At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:25-30
Trying to live up to God’s standard is a heavy burden. God’s law was never meant to champion success, but to display failure. Even the religious leaders of Jesus’ day who thought they had it all dialed in had to offer animal sacrifices for their sins.
There’s a big difference between a relationship based on conditions and a relationship based on love. In conditional relationships, we constantly wait for the other shoe to drop. The belief is we are only one mistake away from permanent failure. It’s a heavy burden.
Being in a relationship where you feel forced to avoid mistakes is an exhausting burden. It’s one thing to make a relationship work, but it’s another thing to live in the fear and frustration that you’ll never measure up.
But, if you live in a loving relationship, you understand that the other person loves and accepts you just the way you are. Sure, there are things that will make the relationship easier or more difficult, but you know that most things are not catastrophic.
Unconditional love says we are loved no matter what. Despite our circumstances, our past, our failures, our sin, our mistakes, our guilt and our shame, God will never, no not ever, give up on us (John 10:28). That’s a little hard to believe.
Often we feel a need to earn God’s grace. We’ve experienced too many free gifts with strings attached. The “no obligation” offers somehow end up coming with obligations. The promise of rest and an easy burden sounds too good to be true. Yet, this is what God desires for us.
There is a part of all of us that resists needing God as much as we really do. If we can actually do things right, then we don’t have to ask God for forgiveness. We don’t have to feel guilty. After all, we didn’t do anything wrong.
Yet, this kind of thinking and need for control actually misses the point. Right or wrong, good or bad, God loves us, and He always will. While there are certainly consequences for our actions, being rejected by God is not one of them.
Why are we working so hard to please someone who is already pleased with us? Some people work hard to please God so their lives will be problem-free. How well is that working? Problems come to every life no matter how you live it.
So, should we just live our lives any way we want to? Is that what God is leading you to do? Is that what’s truly in your heart? Living outside of God’s will places an equally heavy burden on our lives.
Jesus’ yoke is easy. (For more on yokes and God’s will, click here.) A poorly made yoke will gouge an animal’s neck and make the work excruciating. A life lived apart from God is a poorly made yoke. A legalistic, religious life also places a heavy burden on us. But, a properly made yoke makes the work much easier. Yes, there is work, but it’s meaningful work.
Do you question whether God is pleased with you? Are you doing or not doing things to secure God’s favor in your life? God’s favor is His grace – a free gift (Ephesians 2:8-9).
God is pleased with you. Tell yourself that today.
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