John’s letter says, “This is the love of God, that you keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”
Jesus himself said, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
But the confession of the believing world throughout the ages is that the life of faith is not so easy. Actually, at times it seems impossibly hard.
After all, it’s a broad way with a wide gate that goes to destruction, and a difficult way with a narrow gate that leads to life. Paul’s dilemma, which we all feel, was, “I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”
How can these two ideas be reconciled? On the one hand, it’s an easy yoke and a light burden. On the other, it’s a very difficult challenge to live up to.
I don’t know that there’s an easy answer to that question. But I think there are a few keys that can help:
“Without faith it is impossible to please God.” This is not merely a warning or a threat. It’s a statement of fact. If the motive of your Christianity is something other than trust in God, it’s going to be impossible to live it. It is, ultimately, of no use to try the Christian life in order to have better relationships, be a better person, or resolve conflicts in your life. It can do that, but those are fruits, not ends. Only real faith in God and in his goodness can get deep enough into you to bring about the abiding change you’re seeking. And, such faith goes a long way towards making it easier to follow his path.
“The mind set on the flesh cannot please God.” “If you walk by the Spirit, you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
“If you have been risen with Christ, set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are here on earth.”
Without Christ, all my hopes are earthly – I want the things I can see, the things I can touch, things I can give and receive in the present. It’s all about present happiness, possessions, power, relationships, and attainments. In Christ, unless I set my hopes on something bigger than these, it’s going to be hard to live according to biblical principles.
But with a higher hope, it becomes a lot easier to turn away from things that are, in the long run, useless.
Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And this is the commandment: that you love one another.”
Paul also wrote that all of the law of God is summed up in one thing: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love is the fulfillment of the law.
Therefore, it’s also true that lacking love is the breaking of all of God’s law. So, if I do not have love for all, the burden of Jesus is heavy indeed. Because I can’t do any of it without love.
But if the motive of my heart is love from a pure heart and conscience, then keeping the commands of the Lord becomes almost natural.
You become new in Christ. New faith, new hope, new love, new life. With these foundations, his yoke is easy, his burden is light, and his commandments are not burdensome.
“Now abide faith, hope, and love, these three. But the greatest of these is love.”