“Come to me all you who are exhausted and loaded down, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on yourselves and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble at heart, and you’ll find rest for your lives. My yoke is easy for those beneath it, and the load I put on you is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 from The Gospels, Sarah Ruden
“Learn from me because I am gentle and humble at heart, and you’ll find rest for your lives.”
Even as we eagerly rush to travel, to hug family and friends and to resume work and activities, we are exhausted. I am.
We are learning to live with what most likely will be a chronic disease, covid, and we experienced much change in the past 18 months, both good and bad.
Perhaps this is why Matthew 11: 28-30 keeps coming up into my heart. I long for rest, and more than anything rest for the soul.
We carry burdens, more of these of our own making than we recognize. When we seek status, prestige, being right and doing what we are supposed to do, we add to the load of weight upon us. When we leap to pass judgment or strive to make the world better by ourselves, we increase the burden on our lives.
“Learn from me because I am gentle and humble of heart.”
In gentleness we can look at one another and see the goodness and the bad behavior or narrowness of heart and still offer love and acceptance. In humility we can set aside any need to be “better” than another or an entire group of people. How tiring always to worry about our own status. How exhausting to hate, to treat others with disrespect and derision. How wearing to the soul to think we cannot be loved as ourselves, warts and all.
Imagine being fully seen by Jesus. Is it scary? Worrying? Peaceful?
Yes, he called those who focused on religious rituals more than people to task, including Pharisees and moneychangers in the temple, but he treated Nicodemus, the rich young man, Mary Magdalene, the woman accused of adultery and so many more with a gentleness of knowing each one fully and offering love. Jesus did not need to “lord it over anyone” to feel better himself. Jesus also came to know himself fully and could rest in gentleness and humility.
Judge not, lest ye be judged. In this case, consider that we are not judged by God or by others, but we are judged by ourselves and imagine God and others raining down criticism upon us. One condemns others for not keeping a clean and neat home (a message women received often in my generation). Then one worries about one’s own home. What will others think? Cleanliness is next to godliness. What does God think? Now I appreciate cleanliness, particularly when someone else is doing the cleaning. But beware.
The cycle of judgment about cleanliness lies within oneself. The cycle of judgment lies within even if it feels it is coming from others or God. This is a burden we can set down and instead take up the yoke of humility which recognizes our full selves, our strengths and weaknesses. Let us now see one another with gentleness and take on the light load of offering love. In this we shall find rest for our lives. May we enter the season of gentleness.