I grew up with a dad who had a rough upbringing. His life theme was perseverance, and PERSEVRE was on his license plate for many years! It was a value dripped in throughout my childhood.
This principle of endurance and standing firm has been important to Christians throughout history. It has kept me from giving up in hard times, but If I’m honest, can find myself just muscling through and getting exhausted.
Whether it’s a health issue, relationship issue, or something else, we can find ourselves worn out and feeling like we’re running up against the same issues over and over again. Perhaps you find yourself weary and burdened.
Matthew 11:28-30 is Jesus’ invitation for us. It seems elusive this side of heaven, but it is for us – today!
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.
A rabbi’s yoke is his teaching, his way of looking at the world and understanding of God through scripture. To take on a rabbi’s yoke meant to agree with and surrender to his perspective, his teaching and follow his ways.1
Jesus tells us to take his yoke, his ways upon us and to learn from him.
It is easy to be yoked to things that Jesus has not put on me and driven by things that he never asked of me.
We all have messages that run through our heads, narratives that run on auto pilot and drive us. They may be godly narratives, like my father’s life theme of perseverance, but they can also be messages that are not of God.
Many of our internal messages are actually distortions of truth. One of Satan’s tactics is to take a portion of God’s word and spin it. There is enough truth in it to sound convincing, but it is a lie.
Just like he did in the garden with Eve to deceive her into thinking that God wanted to withhold good from her, and like he attempted to do with Jesus during his 40 days in the desert, Satan twisted scripture. He is the master liar and he wants us to take on a harsh and destructive yoke, and then believe that God is putting that on us.
What I am yoked to shows what is lord of my life.
I can be yoked to people-pleasing and perfectionism.
I can be yoked to worry.
I can be yoked to shame.
Two books that have helped me identify the lies are Winning the War in Your Mind2 by Craig Groeschel and Soundtracks3 by Jon Acuff. Groeschel’s book has exercises to work through to identify the lies we believe, and just as importantly, to declare the truth of God’s word to put in their place.
Here are lies that we are prone to believe about:
1. The source of my value.
- I am only good enough and worthy of love if…
I please or measure up to the expectations of the right people. This includes parents, peers, bosses, and even strangers online!
Striving for approval is exhausting!
- My value and worth are derived from my identity in a title or role.
Taking pride in our identity or role is healthy, but if it’s the source of our self-worth, we’re believing a lie that will lead to destruction.
Satan’s lies distort reality and keep us from seeing ourselves the way God does.
Jesus’ yoke is to see yourself the way he does.
Your identity and worth are found in Christ.
He set your value at creation and confirmed it at the cross.
Say this to yourself out loud!
I am worthy of love and wholeness because God created me in his image.
Human beings have intrinsic value and worth because we were created in his image (Imago Dei). No one can ever take that away!
Sin scarred our Imago Dei, but Christ’s death on the cross and his work in our life on earth restores it.
You are loved! You were fearfully and wonderfully made, and you were purchased back from death – with the price of Jesus’ blood.
2. The object of my hope
I am prone to believe the lie that I cannot trust God to take care of my tomorrow. If my life isn’t looking like I think it should or an outcome doesn’t look like I expected, God isn’t trustworthy.
When I doubt God because of my circumstances, I am putting my hope in a desired outcome, rather than in the person of God.
Jesus’ Yoke is that our hope must be in God and in his character.
If we focus on God’s character and faithfulness – remembering how he has provided in the past -we can put our confidence in him and not in today’s circumstances.
Because we can be short-sighted and impatient, it’s easy think that our present circumstances are the end of the story. We must remember that God is at work even when we cannot see.
God’s goodness and faithfulness are seen on the other side.
Satan wants us to believe the lies that:
I am not worthy of forgiveness. My sin was too great.
Someone else does not deserve my forgiveness. They hurt me too deeply
Jesus’s Yoke is Mercy.
Jesus invites us to repent and freely receive mercy for sins that we have committed.
I John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.
Just as we have received, it, Jesus calls us to give mercy and forgiveness to others.
They, too, bear the image of God and in dying for them, Jesus confirmed that He wants to restore their Imago Dei.
It’s not easy to change the narratives playing in our heads, but left unchecked, they burden our souls and keep us from leading the life God intended for us. Taking the time and attention to address the lies we believe and replace them with God’s truth will bring rest to your soul.
Here are Some Action Steps:
- Identify the lie you believe for each of these areas and write it out on an index card.
- On the other side of the same card, identify God’s truth to counter the lie and write it out.
Read these truths out loud to yourself, daily.
- Worship Jesus for being gentle and humble and for offering a light and easy yoke.
Our prayer is that you will take Jesus’ gentle yoke upon you, love him more for his gentleness and humility and that you find rest for your soul.
- The Yoke of the Rabbi: https://www.discipledaily.org/yoke-of-the-rabbi/
- Winning the War in Your Mind, Craig Groeschel
- Soundtracks, Jon Acuff