You have likely seen a version of the classic image of a wealthy person reclining on cushions and being fed grapes by a servant. So wealthy and powerful is that person that they are able to liberate themselves of the burden of lifting their hand to feed themselves. Oh, life is so burdensome…
The sluggard buries his hand in the dish, But will not even bring it back to his mouth
A little earlier in the same chapter:
Laziness casts into a deep sleep, And an idle man will suffer hunger. (Proverbs 19:15)
There are many scriptures in the Bible, and many proverbs from worldly wisdom, that warn of the troubles that come from being lazy. We know this inherently, but given the number of reminders all around us, it seems that we humans have a tendency to lean toward relaxing rather than working. We know that hard work pays off, right? But, what is the pay-off? Why work hard? Why have such a burden? Our efforts show that we accept the gift that we are given. Messiah tells us:
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Is He encouraging us to be lazy? No, of course not… Every wheel carries a load, a racecar, a conveyor system, a bicycle, a toy fire truck… And every wheel has a bearing – commonly called a “ball bearing.” The ball bearing needs to be the correct size, or the wheel will fail under its load. Imagine designing an earth moving dump truck with wheel bearings from a skateboard. The wheels would probably break off before the engine was even installed. A bearing cannot carry a burden that exceeds its capability, or it will break. In a sense, we are all bearings, carrying our burden of life. And we can break.
For my iniquities are gone over my head; As a heavy burden they weigh too much for me. (Psalms 38:4)
God is merciful – thankfully. As our designer, He knows what loads we are rated for, and He provides us with a supplemental bearing for when the load gets too heavy. That is what Mat 11:28-30 is for. But remember, we need to cast our burdens on Him. This is an action verb – to cast… He won’t just take them from us without our asking. We need to own the decision and recognize our need of His assistance. And God won’t take all our burden. We are in training and need to carry what we are able – always increasing our capability.
As we walk along our journey through this life, we need to consider and choose which burdens to carry and which to leave behind. There are burdens that are worthy of our efforts, necessary and/or beneficial. And there are worthless burdens that we carry around, reducing our capacity. If a plane is having engine trouble or running out of fuel and in danger of crashing, it will jettison (throw out) things that are not essential to lessen the load and increase capacity. We need to carry only what is beneficial toward our goal and jettison those burdens we carry that hold us back.
The burdens we carry, and the burdens that Messiah offered to relieve us from are not physical burdens. If we need to move a pile of soil to plant a garden, we will need a shovel, a wheel barrow, and some muscle. Christ is most likely not going to push the wheelbarrow for us. The burdens He will take for us are emotional, psychological, spiritual, relational burdens.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
That peace which surpasses comprehension is Christ taking on our mental burdens. And let’s be thankful that built into His system is a filter – we can cast all our mental burdens on Him and He will discard those that are worthless and carry those that are worthy. We need to fight our fleshly urge to pick them up as they are discarded. For example, I cast my prideful desire to be admired by people onto Him. He will immediately drop that burden saying, “No, this burden is worthless and Nate will not grow from it.” And inevitably, I will see it lying on the ground, pick it up, dust it off, put it in my wheel barrow, and continue along. This is the struggle that He wants us to discard. Forever. The Old Man strikes again… Beware of the Worthless Burdens you carry.
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad. (Proverbs 12:25)
So, what about the worthy burdens that we should be carrying, those burdens that are beneficial, the things that help us in the end and train us for the journey? These are the burdens we should bear with joy, enthusiastically, and with all our might, knowing that our position in Christ will be enriched and made firm by carrying them.
Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load. (Galatians 6:2-5)
I think the seeming contradiction in Gal 6:2-5 (“Bear one another’s burdens…each one will bear his own load”) is intending each of us to always look to help another, but to never expect another to help us. In our humility, we should talk about our blessings more than we talk about our burdens.
Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, The God who is our salvation. (Psalms 68:19)
Here’s some encouragement to bear the burdens that we must carry:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18)
Care for each other by lifting another’s burden, cast your mental burdens on Messiah, and don’t pick up the worthless burdens that He discards for you.
Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:2)
Peace to you and glory to God!