There is an Easy Way.
It is the yoke of Jesus, and it is identical to God’s Hard Way.
This is no play on words; it is real and true. From God’s perspective, they are one and the same. In the words below, Jesus gives us this comfort and encouragement:
Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. — Matthew 11:28-30, emphasis added
Jesus tells us that His yoke is easy. But at the same time, He does not refrain from calling it a yoke. A yoke is a device that connects you directly to the weight to be pulled — the work to be done — just as a workhorse is connected by yoke and harness to the plow to be pulled. Accepting the yoke of Jesus means committing to work — sometimes to hard work. But He still calls it easy, because it spares us and frees us from the yoke of the law.
If you have ever felt the need to strive to be good enough for God, to seek approval from others, or to perform — and still not felt acceptable no matter how hard you struggled — then you know something about the law. That yoke is impossible to bear, and therein lies perfectionism, self-condemnation, guilt, and shame. It will break your back if you take it on.
It almost broke mine before I experienced God’s grace. My early years in the Christian faith were marked by lots and lots of Bible study, meetings, and conversations that were ultimately driven by a desire to make myself good enough for God. I ended up exhausted and not feeling fruitful or abundant. Fortunately, a pastor friend taught me about abiding, or remaining, in Christ. He took me through Jesus’s words in John 15:4:
Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.
The aha moment for me was when I realized that I don’t have to be good enough for God. And I’m not. The Cross freed me from that burden and helped me to experience the benefits of being loved over being good enough. I learned that it is the relationship of dependence and abiding in my connection with Him that made all the difference. That has truly been the easy yoke in my life.
Yet I believe that even the way of the law, as hard as it is, is actually less difficult than the way of entitlement. Why should that be? Because the law at least drives us to hunger for and search after God. The way of entitlement, however, begins and ends with narcissism. Attempting to be good enough for God yields more hope than demanding to be God.
In my work with men and women, I often see a progression:
Entitlement gives way to law, and then law gives way to grace. The self-absorbed person finally comes face-to-face with the reality that he is not God, nor is he as grandiose and bulletproof as he thought. This truth brings a lot of pain. So then he moves to another tactic: He tries to be very, very good, and do things very, very well. He wants to show that he can earn his way out of his failings. But ultimately this tactic fails, too, as all our works do.
At that point, he is ready for God’s Hard Way — the path that says we are all failures, that we all have to admit those failures and take responsibility for them. And then, having faced the intolerable, we come face to face with grace.
The grace of God is the only possible way to accept ourselves, to learn humility, to take responsibility, to make the necessary changes in our lives, and to become the individuals God designed you and me to be.
So stand against entitlement in every form in which it manifests itself. Resolve your own tendencies toward the disease. Be a loving and firm force for helping those in its trap to find life and hope. And you will make the world a better place.
God bless you.
Excerpted with permission from The Entitlement Cure: Finding Success in Doing Hard Things the Right Way by John Townsend, copyright Zondervan.
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Have you come face-to-face with the fact that you’re a failure just like the rest of us yet? And that you have to take responsibility for your failures? It’s tough to do! But, as Dr. Townsend says, it’s the way we can finally accept God’s free gift of grace and the way that we can be actually usable by Him to be who He would have us be. Are you ready to make the world a better place? Come join the conversation on our blog! We want to hear from you about turning away from narcissism and towards humility and grace. ~ Devotionals Daily