Jesus once said, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” ~Matthew 11:30 NKJV
Yet, Jesus was both man and God, He was without sin. Jesus, being both fully man and fully God was far and away better capable of enduring the temptations of this world than we. We, on the other hand, are wholly the species of man and are born into sinfulness. As reminded to us by the Apostle Paul and King David, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10 NKJV) Now, I do not mean to, nor intend to, contradict the bible; however, I will speak some things here which will appear to do so, but in actuality are things that we people tend to think and say without further research.
To follow these commandments of the living God is a burden to the species of man. Why is it so? Because we seek the easy way out of every situation. Sometimes that entails lying…yes, we learned to do that when we were young. “No, I wasn’t taking the cookie out of the cookie jar…I was getting it for you!” And “No, that wasn’t me you saw taking that stick of gum, it was someone that looked a lot like me.” And so on, and so on… We tended to turn lying into an art form, even though everyone could see through our lies. We learned this task quite easily because we thought it would keep us out of trouble. It comes easy to us because we are steeped in sinfulness. Instead, we just got into deeper troubles throughout our lives. Until, of course, we came to God and gave our lives to Jesus. Though, it may have become easier, overall, but because of our history with lies and other sinful behavior…it was a new way of life. Much likened to quitting smoking or some other bad habit. Now-a-days, telling the truth is the new hate speech.
“For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” ~Matthew 23:4 NKJV
We have even learned the fine art of sinfulness from those who mentor us. Our parents made a great number of mistakes, but we learned from them both good and bad. We have learned from certain church leaders, pastors, priests, deacons, etc. They have all had a hand in teaching us both good and the bad. But instead of using these moments for good teaching moments, those great teaching moments were brushed under the table and it seemed to be another Monty Python moment…
It would be far greater a learning experience if our parents and leaders alike would use both good and bad moments to teach us right and wrong. Unfortunately, most parents and leaders tend to not use those moments because they do not desire to be seen as doing wrong and therefore do not see those bad moments as failures, but rather as moments of righteous indignation.
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” ~1John 5:3 NKJV
Keeping God’s commandments is tough enough, especially coming from a background of sinfulness. If we were to take a daily tally…we each would be on the losing end! Completely because of our sinfulness. At any given moment, we are thinking sinful thoughts and bombarded by sinful behavior from the television.
The fact is this, we can do nothing by which we can deserve our salvation through Christ other than to accept such a gift as grace from God, through Christ, and to do our best to follow Christ. Which means we will try to live as Christ mandated us through the Great Commission:
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”~Matthew 22:36-40 NKJV
We shall never be able to live up to such a high moral standard of perfection, it is the perfection of Christ which is in us that allows us to stand in God’s presence. We do have our victories, at times. Sadly, we must look at our sinfulness and our failures as learning and teachable moments…to ourselves and those around us. Consider what the Apostle Paul said to us:
“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” ~Romans 7:15-20 NKJV
This has always seemed to be quite the conundrum to me. But when you look at how we act individually, you can better understand it. Especially with an objective mind!
To dwell on our sinful failures on a daily basis, if dwelt upon too deeply, can either drive us to depression or suicide. But that is not the point, is it? No, it is not! The point is this: That by giving our lives over to Jesus and accepting His gift of grace and salvation, Jesus took our sins upon the cross and He was judged guilty in our place as a substitution for ourselves. He hung on a cross two thousand years ago, before we were ever born. But God knew we were to be born because God formed us in the womb, He formed our inward parts.
It becomes less burdensome to fulfill God’s will, in our lives, when we accept the fact that Jesus carries us through all of the muck and mire. Yes, we are going through it all, but we can rely on Jesus to guide us through it all…even at our weakest moments. Why? Because God loves us, all of us…Jew and Gentile alike! He abhors our sins and our sinfulness but He loves us as His creation!
We will, all so often, wonder why the church or it’s leadership would cast upon our shoulders such heavy burdens that they themselves would not aid us with, nor would they acct accordingly. Jesus spoke on this subject within the warning to the Scribes and the Pharisees: “Woe to the Scribes and Pharisees” (Matthew 23 & Luke 11.) Sadly, man, regardless of his position tends to enjoy power and has no desire to give up such power. This is just as true for those who are in positions of authority within the church. There is but a small segment who will yield their power, or command over others. It takes a man of strong moral guidance and position to do so. The unfortunate truth about humanity is that they have the desire to feel important. even if that importance is false and at his own doing.
No matter how you look at it, we (the species of man) still have a long way to go and a long road to follow in order to learn about God’s humility. Our purpose is to glorify God, but our bravado consistently gets in our way…doesn’t it??
As mentioned before, none of us is perfect. The only way we can stand justified before God is through the perfection of Jesus. By accepting Jesus into our hearts and to Lord over our lives it is His perfection that God the Father sees…yes, even through our wretchedness. Even as wretched as we are, God loves us and gives us chances beyond our abilities to comprehend. That is the love of our Creator! We have until our dying breath…and that includes our church leaders. It is up to them to teach us the ways of God, but it is also up to us to learn those ways and read our bibles daily! It is up to each of us to check & challenge our leaders, in love, thus ensuring that we and they are on the same path. God wants each and every one of us to enter into the Kingdom through truth!
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” ~ 1 Timothy 2:1-4 NKJV
We can surmise that by reading 1 John 5:1-5 a way of choosing the right and moral path!
“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world — our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” ~1 John 5:1-5 NKJV
Earlier in 1 John we were warned not to love the world.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” ~1 John 2:15-17 NKJV
If we will separate ourselves from loving the world and the things in this world, our faith will grow stronger and our hearts will be bound with great strength to Our Lord & Savior, Jesus. This is how we separate ourselves from our sinfulness and sinful behavior…by not setting our sights on the things of this world! Much like dieting or beginning a new routine for your life, it is burdensome in one respect because you are not accustomed to living that way. But once the habit is solidified and set in place, there is no longer a burden…because it is a part of your normal routine of life.
May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!
MK Murphy, PhD, DD