Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”(Matthew 11:28-30, NLT)
I don’t usually read The Message Bible, but I love the way it has these verses:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”(Matthew 11:28-30, MSG)
Life can wear us out. It seems work is never done. Plus, we put such high expectations on ourselves and on those around us that we all just feel weighed down by life if we aren’t careful and if we’re left to our own tendencies. And, of course, Satan tries to put even heavier yokes on us with his lies, accusations, and shame. These make us weary and carry heavy burdens.
God says He will give us rest. His yoke, His expectations of us, are trusting His grace, trust His heart, and trusting in obedience.
Trusting His Grace
Henry Blackaby always explained that grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve, and mercy is God not giving us what we do deserve. Because God is a gracious God, we know we have hope for forgiveness, for second chances, and for renewed relationship. His grace sets us free from the fear of our failures. It is a gift we cannot earn, but one we need so desperately.
Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.(Romans 6:14, NLT)
He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.(Ephesians 1:7, NLT)
We need to trust that His grace is enough to save us and reconcile us to Himself. We need to trust that his grace and forgiveness completely covers our sin.
There’s a popular song right now that has the line, “I don’t want to abuse Your grace, because God I need it every day. It’s the only thing that ever really makes me want to change.” (“Holy Water” from We the Kingdom).
Paul said it this way in Romans 6:1-2:
Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace?Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?
Not only does grace free us from sin and the heavy weight of our own expectations, it heals us and makes us not want to go there any longer. And when we are tempted to abuse His abundant grace by falling into (or chasing after) temptation, may we remember what His grace cost Him and stay faithful. And may we remember the heaviness of the yoke of sin and the freedom of grace.
Trust His Heart: God wants us to trust Him and to trust in Him. He wants us to know His character, that He is a loving, kind, and merciful Father and that we can trust Him more than we can trust ourselves.
God has always kept His promises. When we’ve sinned against Him, He offers us grace and forgiveness, yet we withhold our trust day after day. We may not even realize it sometimes, but when we follow our fear rather than faith, we’re not trusting God. When we worry about what might happen, we aren’t trusting God. When we are afraid He has given up on us, we aren’t trusting God. We do it all day long if we’re not careful. The “what if’s” and the “yeah but’s” rule us more than faith and trust too many times.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.(Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT)
Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.(Psalms 37:3-5, NLT)
Trusting in Obedience
Our obedience shows we love God. He pulls us away from our human striving to learn of His ways and to follow. Have you ever seen an older Christian who has mastered living this way? You will never see a person more at peace with life than someone like that. Peace and joy flows through our lives when we walk in obedience.
Obedience to Christ is not a bunch of do’s and don’ts that constrict our lives as many would have us believe. In reality, most of us really aren’t struggling day by day not to kill, not to steal, and not to commit adultery. I’m sure some may, but our struggle with obedience usually comes from the “do” side of things—the “love your neighbor” part of life, the “make disciples” part of faith, or the “bless your enemies” part of forgiveness.
However, the truth is, when we walk in obedience, peace that surpasses all understanding fills our hearts and minds. There is a sense of adventure in obedience to Christ. We don’t know what He may have us do, but we know that He will never ask us to do anything contrary to His Word or anything that He is not walking with us to accomplish. And we also know that His biggest concern is for our development as a human being. However, He does call us to do things that stretch us and take us out of our comfort zones many times. I always think about the description of Aslan in the movie The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe where Mr. Tumnus tells Lucy, “After all, he’s not a tame lion.” That little sentence makes me smile. God is not to be tamed or controlled by us even though some try to teach that. He is GOD. I guess if trusting and obeying were simple and not a challenge, there would be no value to it. It certainly wouldn’t be an act of worship.
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.(Romans 12:1-2, NLT)
But the point is, what God calls us to is not going to weigh us down but lift us up. It is going to bring glory to Him and joy to us. His yoke is light because it brings life.
So, if you are exhausted and weighed down by the concerns of this world, come away and meet with God. Let His Spirit show you His ways, and you will find relief, rest, joy, and peace.
Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.(Mark 6:31, NLT)