Fri, May 19th - 2:19AM
Tying up Burdens and Putting them on others Backs
You will not often find me being so bold and speaking out with a clear message, but this is one that I must say. It needs to be addressed because it comes in the guise of a sheep, but it is a wolf. I have examined my motivation, and it is of no consequence to me for my sake, so I feel I am free to speak on the matter.
Proverbs 26:12 (NIV)
12 Do you see a man wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
We judge by human standards. That is very dangerous!
Matthew 7:2 (NIV)
2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Before I go further, I wish to ask you a question. What aspects of God's character do you see as central to your understanding of his nature? Some of you will have one that you key on. Others will have many that they consider to maybe varying degrees and maybe all the same level of importance. I have my view, and I will share that later. If you do not have an answer to this question, ask yourself if it is important for you to understand God in this way. I will not answer that question for you. I think that everyone must come to that one on their own terms in accordance with their own faith.
Think about your answer here. Contemplate God and what he means to you. If you already have an answer to this, good! If not, do not let me seem to shame you, for it is not my intent to do so. I will give you my answer later on.
The Scripture I am quoting next is central to what I am trying to say here. If you read it and understand, there is no need to read the rest of this post. I think many of us (myself included at times) forget this and its meaning.
Luke 11:46 (NIV)
46Jesus replied, "And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.
What then, are these burdens that Jesus was talking about? I will tell you what I believe by example in the scripture.
Exodus 20:8-10 (NIV)
8 "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.
Seems pretty straightforward, if somewhat vague.
Matthew 12:1-14 (NIV)
1At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, "Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath."
3He answered, "Haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5Or haven't you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? 6I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. 7If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent. 8For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."
9Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"
11He said to them, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath."
13Then he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.
Luke 13:10-17 (NIV)
10On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity." 13Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.
14Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, "There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath."
15The Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Doesn't each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?"
17When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.
John 7:21-24 (NIV)
21Jesus said to them, "I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. 22Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. 23Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? 24Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment."
Ok, is this not so clear, or more clear? Maybe this next scripture will help.
Hebrews 4:1-12 (NIV)
1Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. 3Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,
"So I declared on oath in my anger,
'They shall never enter my rest.' " And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. 4For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work." 5And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest."
6It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. 7Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before:
"Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts." 8For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. 11Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.
12For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
What was happening? Jesus was healing on the Sabbath and he did it a lot! There were special rules on how many miles you could walk and what you could and could not do on the Sabbath. These rules were not what God intended. The purpose of the Sabbath was for man to rest as intended by God. Look to the scriptures to find what Jesus said further about the priorities of the Sabbath and Man. I am in the military and I may have to work on any given day, and I do so with a clear conscious. Do any of you stand to accuse me on this?
These then were the burdens, as I understand it: The petty rules of "wise and righteous" men. So what about the wisdom of these men?
Matthew 11:25 (NIV)
25At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.
Much more is said about the wisdom of men. Read 1 Corinthians, and you will see a theme of it running throughout what Paul wrote to these people that were enamored with their own wisdom.
Isaiah 29:14 (Amplified Bible)
14Therefore, behold! I will again do marvelous things with this people, marvelous and astonishing things; and the wisdom of their wise men will perish, and the understanding of their discerning men will vanish or be hidden.
And what about the righteousness of the most righteous man or woman on this world today? Of what worth is their righteousness? Mere rags to the glory of God! Clothe yourself in grace! Beat your breast in humility!
I do not mean to say that you should do what you think is evil. No. The scripture is clear on that. Read Romans 14 for clarity on the matter. Peter himself was challenged on this. Read Acts 10.
I will share a story about myself. On what I would call a disputable matter, I was at odds with a brother. Therefore I prayed for more faith, so that I should align my beliefs with his. God, in his wisdom, granted me more faith, but left my understanding dim. I gained faith, but by the dimness of my worldly wisdom of the matter, I was frustrated because my view became even more disparate with my brother's. Then God granted me the wisdom to see the sheer folly of my worldly wisdom. Should I be surprised? No. I think I have been told that one in his word often enough. And yet I still rely upon my own dim understanding based upon worldly wisdom. That is still the wretched state tht I struggle with. Worldly wisdom is not a great blessing. Wisdom from God is the blessing you should seek!
I said I would share what I thought were the core attributes of God as I see it. For me, three qualities seem most important: Steadfastness. Even when I am faithless, he remains faithful and ready. Truthfulness. Coming into the light of truth is central to what I think is important. God help me, but I still have a lot of work that I can see needing to be done there, and could go off on a tangent very easily here. Compassion. As exemplified by the sacrifice he was willing to make to redeem us.
Your picture of God likely does vary from mine. So then, is it hard to understand that in some matters your faith might be stronger than mine and in other areas weaker? Should I judge you or you judge me? NO! However, I would ask you to gently attempt to guide me where you think I might be wrong. I will do the same as God make me able.
Understand clearly that I am talking about disputable matters when I exhort you to accept each other. Matters of doctrine stand despite our understanding or lack thereof. Just be gentle about it, OK?