Thursday, June 29, 2017
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus told his disciples, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” This is in direct contradiction with the experience of many, who tell us how hard it is to be a Christian. They struggle with various sins, and trying to live up to the standard their particular church or group has set, and many live in constant doubt of their salvation. Some give vast amounts of money to the charitable causes, or devote their life to some ministry, constantly struggling to do more for the Lord. As a result, many give up after a few years, convinced they will never be able to satisfy God. They live their Christian life like someone who has a parent or a mate who is very demanding and constantly angry at them.
There are two things which cause this sense. The first is that they don’t know the Lord very well, and thus do not understand his love. The problem is compounded because, as Galatians 5:17 tells us, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” The result is an ongoing conflict and frustration. Sadly, many church leaders are caught up in the same struggle and are unable to help their people.
I Corinthians 13:6 tells us charity, or love “Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.” Real love is based on accepting the person as they really are, rather than some idealistic picture of them. Unfortunately some churches present a one or two dimensional God, focusing on one aspect while neglecting other things about him. Some Focus strictly on his love and Grace, while others focus on his judgment and hatred of sin. This results in some people having a superficial view of God and his love, leaving them fearful that they cannot measure up to what he expects. Others are left with the view that nothing really matters, but when they do wrong, their conscience convicts them, leaving them feeling guilty and unlovable.
Real strong love comes from getting to know a person intimately in a variety of different situations and accepting their actions. We get to know God by studying the scriptures and seeing how he reacted and what he demanded in different situations throughout the scriptures. Only as we study all the scriptures can we get a complete and accurate view of what God is really like. When we neglect any part, our hearers get a superficial and distorted view of God.
II Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Our spiritual life is directly related to how well we know the Lord. The more completely we get to know him through the scriptures, the more like him we will become, and the less we will struggle with being what we should be as Christians. As Galatians 5:16 says, “…Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”
It is the Holy Spirit that changes us, making us more like Christ. It is not the result of our own efforts to love people more, to live a sinless life or to do more for God. As we get to know him and our love grows, the Holy Spirit causes our attitudes to change, transforming us by giving us a new mind as Romans 12:1-2 describes. We simply present ourselves as a living sacrifice and allow the Holy Spirit to do what he wants in us. When we do, the Holy Spirit will produce his fruit in us. As described in Galatians 5:22-24 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”
Sadly, many Christians are trying to develop these things in their life by their own efforts, resulting in frustration and fear they will not measure up to what God wants. If, instead, we present our bodies a living sacrifice, obeying what he teaches us, the Holy Spirit will produce them in us, making us like Christ. When we accepted Christ, we were made alive by the Spirit. Since that is true, as Galatians 5:25-26 says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” Instead of comparing ourselves to others or competing with them, we need to just let the Holy Spirit have control. When we do, we will finally learn what Christ meant when he said, “… my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”