I was reading in my Bible this morning and came across an old familiar passage in a new light. Jesus said, "Come to me all who labor 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." Matthew 11: 28-30 (ESV).
I've probably read this passage a million times, but usually we focus on "come to me" and "my yoke is easy". Today I was drawn to "learn from me, for I am gently and lowly in heart".
Lately I've been struggling with kindness in my personal family life. I make excuses (yeah, I know I was going to try not to do that as much) and I justify it, and say I'll work on it when the kids are older. There are times when I will need to adjust my voice volume or tone to my 5 year old, because he can't smell and therefore has a hard time understanding micro-expressions. However, I don't need to raise my voice out of anger.
Yet, despite wanting to work on this problem, and seeing a need to work on this problem of my anger, I still haven't been able to accomplish much. So, how do I fix the problem? The simple answer is that it's not about me.
In this passage, Jesus is not merely reminding us that He's with us in the journey, which is what I've often heard in referring to the His "yoke", He is reminding us that He wants us to be like Him. So many times, it is easier to "do it on our own" or take pride in our accomplishments, especially in our culture today. Jesus isn't just saying that He will be there with us in our struggle, He's actually telling us not to struggle so much. Rather than pride and self-centered focus, make yourself humble. He humbled Himself entirely to a conclusion of allowing Himself to physically and spiritually die so that we could be saved from our sins, and yet my pride rears it's head when a child doesn't listen for the millionth time in a row.
So how do we learn from Christ on our daily walk? Keep praying with an open heart, reading your Bible with an open mind, and lay down your pride. Practice daily gentleness, with others and yourself. I don't think anyone would say that his yoke was truly easy (being asked to lay down His life). Yet, He said it was, because His purpose was not to make Himself a God on earth, but to make Himself as lowly as He could, to reach down to us in our filth and shame and put His arms around us. So take up that yoke, not the pride of the Pharisees, but the warm hug of a dirty child.