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Heavy Burdens and Difficult Yokes


(written in Easy English)

Jesus said that the things he asks us to do are not difficult. (Matthew 11:28-30) But some of the things he tells us to do feel very difficult. (Luke 9:23-24) At times we must have faith to do the difficult thing first... before we understand how it is easy. (Hebrews 11:1, Romans 8:24-25) But, after a short time, most of the difficult things that Jesus tells us to do will become easy. We will be happy about choosing to do those things, and we will not want to stop doing the things Jesus said for us to do. We will understand that all of the teachings of Jesus are good news and good for us.

Read Matthew 13:45-46. In this story, the man was not sad about selling all that he had, to buy the piece of land. He was happy because he received a very expensive pearl with the land, and this pearl was far better than anything that he used to buy the land.

At times, when we are trying to follow God, we find one rule, and we change this rule to make it the most important rule (a corner stone). We try to be very perfect with this one rule, and we forget the spirit behind it.

The Jews did this with a rule about rest days. They have a book (the Torah) that they use to tell people how to understand God's rules in the Bible. It says in one place that you cannot pull a chair across a dirt floor on a rest day because the leg of the chair will make a line in the dirt like the line that farmers make when they are planting corn. Planting corn is work... you must not work on a rest day, so you cannot move a chair on a rest day! There are hundreds of rules like this in the Torah.

But Jesus was angry with this hard line. (Mark 2:23-28) The rest day rule was to help people, but religious people were making the rule too hard; so Jesus changed it.

Most people are too soft about obeying God. There are many verses in the Bible that teach us to work hard to obey God. But we can be too hard about things too. (Ecclesiastes 7:16) God does not want us to be bad; but he does want us to know that he is more important than the rules that he gives to us. We must follow God even more than the rules. (1 Corinthians 10:22-23) To do this, we must understand the reason why God makes a rule. The reason is more important than the rule. (2 Corinthians 3:6)

If you take a good rule and work too hard on that one rule, you can miss the point of the rule. One good rule is: "Do not kill". Some people were thinking, "To be safe we will not kill animals". Today, some people will not even kill plants. The Bible says that these people have weak faith. It can make them hard toward other people. (Romans 14:1-2) When their faith is stronger, they will understand the reason behind the rule, and they will be happier people.

Another good rule is not to drink too much alcohol. (1 Corinthians 6:10) But if we are too proud to drink with people, then we do not understand the spirit of the rule. (Matthew 11:19)

People who run away from God, and try to cover their guilt by drinking, taking drugs, or being foolish, will not be in the kingdom of heaven. But this does not mean that people will not drink or be happy in heaven. (Matthew 26:29)

Another rule is not to have sex with a person you are not married to. But some people say it is wrong to talk or think about sex, or to have a dream about sex. Often when they make the rule too hard, it leads to bad fruit.

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On the left (above) is a happy person. He is following God's rules, but Jesus is carrying most of the weight. On the right is a person carrying a heavy weight. After taking a rule from Jesus, he added more rules to it. He is not happy. When we make the rule too difficult, it leads to many problems: breakdowns (physical, and mental), feeling we are better than other people if we keep the rules, fighting between people and groups, sadness, and hiding the truth (because we do not want people to know that we cannot follow the rule ourselves).

A good runner is not always the one who pushes himself the hardest. A good runner learns to rest as he runs. He learns not to carry weight that he does not need. (Hebrews 12:1) We should work at resting. (Hebrews 4:9-11)

When we stop carrying too many rules that God did not make, we will have more of the strength of God's spirit. We will have love, and happiness and unity... and we will have discipline too. (Galatians 5:22-23)

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