“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
So, if Jesus promised this, then why am I still struggling? Many believers may wonder this. However, if we find that our lives are difficult and heavily burdened, it could be a sign, or a symptom, that we are not taking on His yoke. That is, we are not learning to be like Him. The above passage is two-fold. Paraphrasing, Jesus did say if you come to Me, I will help make your life easier, but, you have to learn to be like Me. When we try and do things our way or someone else’s way, the yoke is hard, and the burden is heavy. But, when we learn to do things Jesus’s way, it is then that our lives become lighter and less burdened.
So, what does it mean then to take Jesus’s yoke and learn to be like Him?
1. We take on His Spirit and His attitude
When we insist on harboring negative attitudes of anger, jealousy, resentment, and so forth, all this negativity weighs us down and makes us feel weary and unhappy.
Jesus said He was gentle and lowly in heart. In other words, He was humble. He didn’t act like He was better than others. He cared about people even when they didn’t deserve it. He never tried to get revenge on others for their mean words and actions against Him. He loved others and wanted to help them regardless of whether they were good to Him or not. When we make up our mind to take on the attitude and Spirit of Jesus, it is then that we will find rest for our minds, heart and soul.
Matthew 23:12 “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Galatians 5:22, 23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (In other words, by living according to these, you are made free, and your life will not feel enslaved by the struggles of this world.)
2. We play by the rules
If we choose to live the life of a criminal, stealing, doing illegal drugs, cheating on taxes, and so on, guess what? We are going to always be looking over our shoulder for fear of being caught. That is living a life of slavery instead of freedom. But, when we seek to live our lives according to the laws of the land, we never have to worry about getting caught. We are free. We never have to worry about hiding, sneaking around, or going to jail.
The same goes for living a life of morality and integrity. If we strive to live honestly in all things, we don’t ever have to worry about how to cover up our tracks or whether our lies will find us out. If we don’t gossip, we don’t ever have to worry about whether something we said about somebody will get back to them. If we never cheat on our spouse, job, taxes, or anything else, we never have to worry about getting caught and suffering the consequences of it. We are then free, and we have peace of mind.
Psalm 119:1 “Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD.”
3. We love God the Father and seek to worship Him and serve Him
Jesus worshiped God the Father. He sought God’s will over His own. When we put God first in our lives, we have the confidence of knowing that we are kept under the shadow of His wings, and we have the peacefulness and easy assurance that He is taking care of us in all things.
Psalm 57:1 “…and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge until these calamities have passed by.”
I John 3: 21, 22 “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.”
4. We help others when the opportunity arises
Jesus had no pillow to lay His head, and yet He helped many. Too often, we think that we can not help others because we don’t have enough ourselves. God knows when you have only a little, but when He sees you sacrificing that little you have to help others, guess what? God returns it to you and even more. Try it and see.
Ecclesiastes 11:1 “Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.”
Proverbs 19:17 “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord , and he will repay him for his deed.”
Too often, we live under the burden of never having enough, but when we learn that Jesus is in control of our lives, and we learn to give what little we have to help others, it is then that we find financial relief.
Matthew 25:14 In the parable of the talents, Jesus taught that when we do good with what He has given us, He will give us more. However, if we refuse to do good with it, then we will lose even that which we have.
5. We forgive those who have wronged us
Jesus forgave those who condemned Him to the cross. He forgives us of our sins, the reason that took Him to the cross in the first place. Harboring a grudge is heavy thing to bear. We all know this. When you hate someone and hold a grudge against them, it eats at you every day, and you become a slave to that grudge. But, when we learn to forgive like Jesus, we become free. We are free to feel happy instead of resentful, free to feel positive instead of negative. Grudges steal our joy, but forgiveness fills us with joy. We don’t forgive people because they deserve it. We don’t deserve God’s forgiveness. We forgive so that goodness, joy and freedom can prevail in us as well as in the person who wronged us.
Matthew 6:14, 15 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”