Self-Denial and Cross-Bearing (Part 3)

Oxen - plow - cabin

This series is excerpted from a piece written by an author at  The author wished to remain anonymous.


Rest for Your Souls

“Come unto me, all ye that 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 ye shall find rest unto your souls”.  (Matt. 11:28)

Notice how this rest is for the SOUL.  Our souls are always striving.  The striving most of us experience occurs when things do not go our way, when control is removed from us, or when we are put into situations we do not want to be in due to their demands upon us.  Frustration builds because we are unwilling—or rather, strong-willed.  What is the Lord’s answer for a weary, striving soul?  It is REST.  The soulish person would want rest in the form of getting some “me time”, but the Lord seems to think that taking on a yoke might be just the answer.  At the mention of a yoke, immediately there is resistance.  Such a way of life does not seem to be in line with the self-protecting, self-exalting approach held by some Christians today.

Throughout the Bible, oxen are a picture of a servant heart that steadily works for the benefit of others.  Jesus has certainly fulfilled the role of the ox.  He fits the bill so well that He even has His own yoke, as any ox would.  His words are: Take MY YOKE upon YOU.

In other places in the scripture we are called “yokefellows” (cf. Phil. 4:3).  This is exactly what Jesus’ invitation is about!  In an effort to relieve us of “soul weariness”, the Lord invites us to be yoked with Him for awhile.  During the process of being yoked in tandem with Him, we will “learn of Him”.  The process of “learning of Him” may not be what some might suppose.  He does not desire to be yoked with us so He may give us endless teachings; rather, He does so to be an example of self-denial in the daily affairs of life.

What will we learn?  We learn from His servant heart and ways.  We will see that, when He is weary but asked to plow an unexpected extra mile, that He does it to the glory of God, putting the needs of others first.  We will see His response when care is given to others who are less needy while He seems to be ignored.  In all of this, you are not going to learn FROM Him but OF Him.  So, what is it that you are going to learn?  You are going to learn that He is meek and lowly.  This lesson is not simply to teach you how selfless He is but that it might have an effect and bring about a change in you. “You shall find rest for YOUR souls”.

Hopefully, when we see how free and peaceful the Lord is in His self-giving lifestyle, we will long to be free from the selfish demands that our souls put upon us.  Maybe then His words about taking up the Cross as our daily companion and living according to self-denial will not look so ominous after all.

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