(…continued) What then of the commands? The Bible is certainly full of them, and it certainly does seem at times that life would be a whole lot easier if we didn’t always have our conscience telling us to do this and not do that. Telling a lie would often times be so much more convenient, but there is the Bible, telling us to be truthful. Other people can be so annoying at times, and in our hearts we may wish for them the worst, but there is the Bible telling us to love other people and be forgiving of them. And speaking of other people, it is so much fun to talk about them and their foolish behavior; but then there is the catechism explanation of the eighth commandment, telling us not to slander or even gossip about others, but rather, explain their actions in the kindest way. And we put so much into making and spending money. Yes, we do have to make a living, but did you ever notice what a casual attitude Jesus has toward such concerns, and how he is always warning about the dangers of getting too wrapped up in the pursuit of money and possessions? And despite what the seventh commandment says about stealing, I just the other day read yet another article by someone in business would said that they would never be able to make it if they were honest. Their competition, they said, were always dishonest, and an honest person would never get ahead in the world of business. And then Jesus is always talking about giving of your time and money to help other people; and isn’t that a burden when it would be so much easier to just take care of ourselves? What does Jesus mean when he says his yoke is easy and his burden is light? It would almost seem that it would be a whole lot easier to not be a Christian. It would seem that one could get rid of a whole bunch of burdens by not believing in Jesus.
But when one thinks more deeply about these commands of the Bible, it becomes clear that our obedience to the commands of God is also a way of making our burden lighter. The morality commanded in the Bible, which can seem like such a burden, does in fact make life easier– if and when it is obeyed. Jesus summary of the whole Law, that little sentence that we call the Golden Rule, makes the case simply and powerfully. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is all it says, but that can be a very helpful guide in thinking about these things. Yes, you might find it convenient to tell an occasional lie to someone else, but do you ever want to be told anything but the truth? And which way is easier in the long run? Isn’t it easier to have a relationship with someone you can always trust than with someone who you know from past experience does not always tell the truth and can never be trusted? Even little lies, once discovered, destroy trust, and that always makes a relationship much more difficult. And does dishonesty really make things better in business? Does it help the thousands of people that lose their jobs and pensions because of greed and corruption in the upper levels of management? And yes, the obligation to help other people can be additional burden; that is, until we are the ones who need the help, and we all get our turn at needing help. These are just a few examples, but the same principle holds true for all of God’s Law. Obeying the commandments of God may seem like a burden in the short term, but breaking the commandments always, in the long run, makes things more difficult for someone. Thus, even the commands of God are a gift, something God has done for us, giving us a guide as to how to live life best and make it easier on ourselves and others.
Therefore, these words of Jesus apply to both the commands of God and the promises of God. Life in this world has many burdens, but our faith in God is not one of them. That faith is what gives us the wisdom and the strength and the eternal hope that can enable us to bear any burden.
I Peter 5:7 — Cast all your cares on God, for he cares about you.
Matthew 11:28-30 — (Jesus said), “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Psalm 119:105 — Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
Luke 6:31 — (Jesus said), “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Almighty, everlasting God, Lord, heavenly Father, whose Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our way: Open and enlighten my mind that I may understand thy Word purely, clearly, devoutly, and then, having understood it aright, fashion my life in accord with it, in order that I may never displease thy majesty; through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our dear Lord. Amen.
–Johannes Bugenhagen (1485-1558)