We have been exploring the three keys that are the antidote to stress contained in Matthew 11:28-30.
Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
You will recall that Key #1 was Come to Jesus and Key #2 was Take on Jesus’ Yoke.
Key #3: Learn from Jesus to be Like Jesus
What is Jesus saying that we are to learn from Him? Gentleness and lowliness of heart. You may be asking what do these have to do with stress. Let’s look at each in turn.
The opposite of gentleness is harshness. When we are harsh it brings strife and much quarreling. I don’t know about you but when there is strife in the home, my workplace and even at church it stresses me out. It is even worse if somehow I am the cause of it. Harshness can also be equated to anger. An angry person stirs up conflict rather than seeks to quell it. We are told in Proverbs 15:1,
A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.
It is important to remember that gentleness (meekness) is also part of the fruit of the spirit given to us in Galatians 5:23. Meekness really means ‘strength under control’. When we are gentle many people mistake it for weakness. However, it takes much more strength to decide not to be provoked to anger, not to have to always have the last word, not to always prove that I am right. Sometimes we need to just allow people to be ministered to by God and not take on all the battles and arguments that people bring to us. To rest and let God do His work. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman and who has more power than the Holy Spirit. We stress ourselves when we feel that we have to force people to think as we do and to control others. Correct in gentleness and when that doesn’t work present it to God and leave it His hands. He can do a much better job than we can. This is particularly true when dealing with our children, our spouses, our church members, and our colleagues in the workplace.
Lowliness of Heart
Although I am dealing with this separate from gentleness, the two are in fact related.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, (Phil. 2:5-9)
We need to be humble. One of the greatest stressors in our lives is trying to build an image of greatness in the eyes of men. If we are completely honest with ourselves, many times our motivation for many of the burdens we place on ourselves is so that we will be seen in a positive light by others. Because we are trying to line up with other people’s expectations. Because we are trying to be better than others. Because we are trying to build up our own status in this world. Jesus is saying to us that this is not His way. At the end of the day, He is not concerned about how you are seen by the world (your reputation) but who you really are inside (your character). Throughout the scriptures we are admonished to see ourselves as servants and not as masters. Even when we have attained great academic qualifications, positions of leadership and great notoriety we must remain humble.
Keeping up with the expectations of others is a major stressor. Keeping up with God’s expectations is not. He has wired us for the purposes He requires of us and when we are walking in those purposes it is not burdensome. Assess yourself today. What are the things in your life that are weighing you down? Did God say you were to do them? Are you doing them for the right reason? Did you even check God before you decided to take on those things? Many of us are in jobs and relationships that God never intended for us. Again, He wired us for the vocation, ministry, and life He purposed for us even while we were in our mother’s womb (Psa. 139). Pride of life will kill you quicker than anything else. Lay aside your reputation building and do what God is requiring of you. Sometimes we are doing the right thing for the wrong reason, that too is wrong in God’s eyes and that thing instead of bringing glory to God becomes a burden. Do you want to experience the peace of the Lord that passes all understanding? Be like Jesus. Obey the Lord and seek to be of no reputation and He will exalt you. That is better than any exaltation you can get from striving to meet the world’s standard for success.
Life will always have some degree of stress. It’s a part of our growth and development. But there is a level of stress that is unhealthy, over which we have control because many times we bring it on ourselves by being disobedient to God’s Word for our lives. Therefore, make the decision today to:
- Come to Jesus
- Take on Jesus’ Yoke
- Learn to be like Jesus