Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
– Matthew 11:29-30 HCSB
A jewelry merchant and a tool seller simultaneously checked into a hotel. The jewelry merchant had his small case, filled with diamonds, emeralds and pearls. The tool seller had a trunk filled with hammers, saws, drills and other kinds of tools.
Both were served by the same porter. The jewelry merchant proceeded up to his room and the porter soon arrived and extended his hand for a tip. The merchant gave the man something for his efforts, but the porter cleared his throat and continued to hold his hand out, clearly indicating that it was not enough. He muttered something about the difficulty of lugging the jewelry merchant's case up the stairs and how heavy it was.
The jewelry merchant exclaimed, "If you carried up a big heavy suitcase, then that was not mine! My suitcase is very light. You've brought the wrong suitcase!"
We Christians tend to carry the wrong suitcase at times. Jesus said that being His disciple would involve a cost, that there would be a load, but that it would be a light one. But we add all kinds of baggage to the load. We start adding on our human philosophies, our corporate procedures, our rituals and ceremonies. We carry all this excess weight around and then wonder why the Christian life is so difficult!
Paul encouraged us to strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. He commanded us to run with endurance the race that God has set before us. How are we to do this? By keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.
Our labors are often difficult. Ministry is not for the timid or the weak! But because it is a labor of love, it is not considered difficult. Because it is done with Christ as the co-laborer, the time passes quickly.
My wife enjoys gardening. She attacks the weeds with great gusto. She sweats, she gets dirty, she stays bent over on her knees for hours at a time. But when she stands up and surveys her work she smiles with satisfaction. I, for one, find no particular joy out of gardening. To me it is only labor pure and simple. But that serves to illustrate the point. Jesus gave each of us a particular gift, provided us with opportunities to hone them and put them to good use, and works along beside us as we grunt through it. That lightens the load.
We are warned that on judgment day many will discover their labors were in vain because they were unauthorized. Let's make sure that we are not carrying any excess and unnecessary baggage.
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