By Kelly Shaw
Kelly is a member of the International Facilitation Team.
As the beginning of a new school year dawns, sometimes the stress of how to pay for tuition sets in. Or maybe you have graduated in the spring and took the summer off, and now you are the facing the pressure of real life. Where will you find a job?
How will you survive? For others still, the stresses of life, health, or one’s job can get us down. Have you ever wanted to just forget about all of the worry in life, the unending questions, and just have peace filling your soul? Then here are some words for you…
“Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Forming Character in Us
Jesus here is speaking of His own character, one of the only places where He describes His own character, as well as the yoke that He asks us as His followers to bear. He is not a mean task master who is going to whip us into shape like some of the other yokes we can put around ourselves.
Rather, He is one who is meek, patiently submitted to God and humble in heart. As we come unto Him, learning and becoming like Him, we can experience a peace of knowing that He is fighting our battles so we can rest in Him.
It is so easy to pass from the first words to the last, “Come unto me … and find rest.” Yet, just like in life where what is in between makes all the difference, so here the middle is where the meat is.
Jesus doesn’t just call us to Himself, but He calls us to be transformed into His image, “learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.” This image of meekness and lowliness of heart is where we will find our rest.
He wants us to learn about Him by studying the Scriptures, but then be transformed by what we learn. James 1:21-22 says,
“…Receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
We cannot just receive God’s words to us but then do nothing about. We must commit ourselves to being completely obedient and totally transformed. If we read the Scriptures during our quiet time, but we don’t allow the Scriptures to transform our behavior and actions, then we have deceived ourselves.
We aren’t truly Christ’s disciples. So then, if we are committed to transformation, how do we cultivate meekness in our lives?
First, we need to understand that meekness is not equated with weakness. Jesus is strong, full of power to do miracles, signs, and wonders. However, he did not flaunt His power. He neither bent to the enemy’s temptations nor to the pressure of the Pharisees to use His power in ways that the Father did not intend.
Second, people often confuse the difference between humility and meekness. Humility is how one views one’s self. A person who is humble understands her dependence upon God because she recognizes her need for God. Humility is the absence of pride.
However, meekness is defined in relation to submission to God. We are creatures who have a free will. We can do whatever we want, and yet we choose to submit ourselves to God. It is precisely in that submission to God that we understand and trust God to do what He sees as best.
Meekness is an attitude with which we face God and life. We face God surrendered, and we face life with humility, confidence, and contentment. Jesus was incredibly humble, never proud or boasting of His power. Yet, He showed His meekness on numerous occasions.
For example with the woman caught in adultery, He had the power and authority as the only one present without sin to condemn her to death. Yet, He restrained His power and did not boast of His sinlessness, instead showing His mercy and patience.
Being fully God and man, He chose not to condemn and rather draw this little lamb in by His lovingkindness. Once again in this situation, we see that being meek is not a state of weakness or powerlessness, but of choosing the will of the Father.
Another beautiful picture of Christ’s meekness is His suffering before His death on the cross. In Adam Barnes’ commentary, he writes of meekness, “Meekness is patience in the reception of injuries.” (Barnes, Matt 5.5) Christ chose not only humility as He is described by Paul in Philippians,
“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.” (Philippians 2:8)
He also chose meekness, in which He restrained His power speak and defend Himself against the lies and deceit, to stop those who tortured Him, to come down off the cross as they taunted Him, and to live as the King without dying.
Yet, because He was completely surrendered to the Father and the Father had not removed the cup from Him in the garden of Gethsemane, He chose to endure all these things.
Moving from Meekness to Rest
In order to embrace meekness, we must embrace full surrender. Surrender involves knowing intimately the God whom we love, by studying His words and knowing His Son. Our lives need to involve more than just a time when we read God’s word, but we need time to reflect on what God is saying in His Word, what
He wants to teach us, and the change we should see in the practical out working of our lives. Knowing about God isn’t enough. We can’t settle for listening to sermons, unless we are diligently applying these to our thought life, actions, emotions, and spiritual disciplines.
In surrender, we allow God to speak into every area of our lives that we can truly experience the abiding presence of God. God delights to dwell in those who are pursuing Him. We don’t have to get it perfect 100% of the time, but our heart attitude needs to be one that is teachable, submitted to God, desirous of being transformed into the image of Christ.
It is here in the place of full surrender that Jesus meets us. In that coming to Him and laying everything down, we find the rest that Christ promised.
Because we understand who the Father is and who Christ is as loving and merciful and so many more things, we see that the Alpha and Omega knows what is best for us, and we are set free to trust and rest in Him. Rest from worry. Rest from fears. Rest, sweet rest.