From The Heart

Publish date: 04/28/2002

28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

The Amplified version says, “28 Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. 30 For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good – not harsh, hard, sharp or pressing, but comfortable gracious and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.”  

Jesus gives an invitation to everyone of us who are weary, fatigued, heavy-laden and overburdened - because we have been working hard, toiling, and laboring in our own strength - to come to Him. He offers help and a solution. He was not talking only to us about physical labor alone, but also about mental, emotional and spiritual labor. There are some burdens that we were not designed to bear. We were not designed to bear the burden of sin and everything else that hell has to offer. We were designed, by the Father, to live in His presence and to draw our life from Him and to be sustained by Him, not to be lone rangers – struggling and limping along under the weight of our heavy burdens. There is no help, no salvation, no relief from our burdens in anything that is in our wisdom, strength or ability – nothing we can do ourselves can come close to what the Father does for us if we will humble ourselves to receive from His hand all that He has already provided for us.

The term heavy-laden means to be loaded up like a pack animal, or in a figurative sense, to be overburdened with ceremony or spiritual anxiety. That is what religion does. It loads you up with burdens, and yet offers no solutions, no way out and no relief. No wonder religion makes some people miserable and grumpy and others just run away. Unfortunately, they run away from God as well. The meaning of religion, in the dictionary, has to do with a belief in and a commitment to something or someone. It also means that a person is bound to the something or someone. Now commitment to God and being bound to Him is not a bad thing, but the problem is that most people are bound to a set of rules and regulations, most of which were instituted by man, not God!

God is not religious! Yes, you read it right! He hates religion with a passion. Jesus, Who speaks for the Father, tells us what He thought of religion and tradition. In Matthew 15:1-9, the Pharisees asked Jesus why His disciples broke the tradition of the elders by not ceremonially washing their hands before they eat! But Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for breaking the command of God for the sake of their tradition and called them hypocrites because they honored God with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him. He told them that they worshipped God in vain because their teachings were nothing more than rules taught by men.

If we want the blessing of God on our lives, we must be bound by and to the commands of God, but not the traditions that are set in place by man. Your prayer should be, “Father, burn every bit of religion and tradition out of me. Let me be filled with love and devotion to You and to Your Word alone.” Those who do not practice what they preach and who put unfair religious burdens on others – burdens that they themselves are unwilling to bear - anger the Lord (Matthew 23:1-4). We should not lay any burden on someone other that what God requires and what we ourselves are willing to do.

The yoke is a wooden frame or bar with loops or bows at either end, fitted around the necks of a pair of oxen, etc. for harnessing them together. It represents a coupling – something that binds, unites, or connects, such as the marriage relationship. People use the term “the yoke of matrimony.” Figuratively, it has to do with servitude - a law or an obligation. We are yoked to the Lord, but it is neither a hard or unpleasant yoke. A burden is, literally, freight or, figuratively, a task or service. It should not be difficult for us to serve God – if we do it right! It should be a joy and a pleasure. If you are serving God and you are not having the time of your life, then you better check out what you are doing and believing, because according to Jesus, our yoke should be easy and our burden should be light! Cast your cares on Him today. Stop trying to work for your salvation and stop trying to please God in your own strength or ability. Stop! And receive His grace and His mercy, which will refresh your souls!

1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  Galatians 5:1 NIV