Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Yoke's On You!

Matthew 11:29 - 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.

When I first gave my life to the Lord at the age of 19, I was like a runaway train. I became very active doing many good things but completely ran ahead of the Lord. Over the years the Lord has taught me to lean back in him and rest. I am still pretty active in my Church and community but I have become better at listening to His promptings, His heartbeat and doing everything I do out of a place of rest; trying to only go where He goes and do the things He is prompting me to do.

Occasionally I run into well meaning people (don't worry, if you are reading this it probably isn't you) who are convicted to do certain good works and they have a way of projecting that onto others. They think that if they are convicted to do a certain thing, everyone else must be too. I am not just merely talking about someone asking, but also using manipulation and guilt. Since I have dealt with this sort of thing in the past, or should I say, the Lord has dealt with me on it, it usually is not hard for me to spot when someone is trying to place a false yoke around my neck. This thing they are trying to get me to do will often make me feel anxious and feel burdensome instead of peaceful and life-giving. Don't get me wrong, the Lord will often stretch us and call us out of our comfort zones but still if it is from Him, we will have an underlying peace about it and the grace will be available.

Sometimes nobody needs to manipulate us into doing something we are not called to do but we are more than capable of placing false yokes on ourselves in an attempt to look good, please other people and try to earn God's love. 

Galatians 5:1 - It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

We must remember there are many ways to serve the Lord and as one person we can not do it all. Some of the ways He calls us to serve may seem less glamorous and less altruistic but it is no less important if he is the one calling us. 

For example, some of us may not be able to stand outside an abortion clinic and pray but we can help promote a culture of life by making a meal for a new mom, throwing a baby shower and giving baby clothes to a local pregnancy center.

There are also many different ways to serve the poor. There are the physically poor but also spiritually poor. Maybe you are not volunteering at your local homeless shelter but maybe you are teaching a bible study or catechism class at your church. Maybe you are not able to do mission work in Africa but maybe you are able to give the elderly lady next door a ride for her doctor's appointment.

What good is it if we are doing a bunch of works of mercy but neglecting our own family or community? I once belonged to a church that would do a sock and food drive for the poor outside the church which was a good thing but they would neglect people inside the church who were also in need of basic essentials.  I think the reason this happens is because people view helping someone they do not know as being more altruistic than helping a family member or someone in their own community. We need to check our motives. Are we doing something because it makes us feel better about ourselves or out of genuine compassion for another person? Also, if it is the Lord calling us, we will not have to neglect our primary responsibilities at work and home.

Jesus only did what he saw His Father doing. He was led by the Holy Spirit and acted as he was moved by compassion. Most of his life was spent hidden. His active ministry did not start until he was 30 years old. Even after his ministry started, he did not heal every person he came in contact with and he still took time to get away and spend time with God the Father.

In the story of Lazarus (John 1:1-45), we would have missed out on a greater miracle if Jesus had done what the people wanted him to do and went to Lazarus right away and healed him. Instead he was tuned in to God and what He wanted to do and many more came to believe since Lazarus was raised from the dead instead of just being healed.

It can be humbling to realize and even admit our own limitations. There are times we will have to say no to some people's expectations of us but in the end we will truly have a greater impact on those around us if we first strive to lean back in God's grace and only do the things he is calling us and giving us the strength to do.

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