For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
Religion would seek to lay a heavy burden on our shoulders. It would tell us that we must do so much and seek to do enough in order to be worthy of some blessing. Religion would tell us that we must toil and strive if we ever hope to be righteous. We must keep the commandments and follow the traditions, and if we stick to all of them, then we’re better than those who don’t and we’ve earned our place at the top. And this sounds okay at first. It seems right until we try to do it and fail. And then those rules, so rigid and unbending, can either push us away from trying to pursue it at all or else we end up so prideful that we become rigid and unbending ourselves.
But Jesus’ burden is light. He doesn’t ask us to earn His favor, and He knows we could never obey perfectly in all things no matter how hard we tried. But He takes us as we are, unworthy, and blesses us anyway and gives to us His righteousness. He eases our burdens instead of adding to them. And that sudden lightness that we feel at His feet of an unburdened heart can go on in much greater service than the one only serving out of duty or for profit.
So what are we expecting of others, and what are we expecting of ourselves? Are we condemning others anytime they mess up, or do we show them a little grace? Do we beat ourselves up over every little mistake, or do we seek God’s mercy and try to do better? Are we making lists of rules and expecting ourselves and others to live up to them, or are we relying on Jesus and trusting only in Him? Do we expect more of others than we would ever expect of ourselves, or are we holding ourselves up to some impossible standard?
If we are believers in Christ, let us find our freedom in Him. Let’s stop wrapping chains around our hands and feet and going forth as slaves when we are the redeemed children of God. Let’s trust His Word and His Spirit to be our guides and do what we know is right with grateful hearts. And let’s submit ourselves under the yoke of Jesus and not the man-made one that weighs us down so heavily.