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September 04, 2007

“COME UNTO ME”

by Professor Robert J. Barth

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).

Do you ever feel like the weight of the load is too much to carry? Whether it is work, studies, family responsibilities, or the combination of them all, it can sometimes seem overwhelming. Then there are the unexpected events in life that require immediate attention and the postponement of planned activities. If not viewed correctly, these “interruptions” will increase the weight of existing burdens.

Or maybe your burden is a broken relationship that involves a misunderstanding or harsh words that you regret saying. Despite efforts to be reconciled, there remains a breach in the relationship. You may even be experiencing a spiritual burden because of your love for someone who is living in sin and does not seem to understand how he or she is damaging their life.

Your burden may be the weight of sin itself if you have not yet repented from sin, believed in Jesus as the atoning sacrifice for your sin, and received the forgiveness of your sin by His grace through faith. Even after receiving His forgiveness you may be under the mistaken mindset that you need to earn His love and acceptance by obeying His commands, which seem impossible to keep.

Whatever the burden, we all need a renewed mind (Romans 12:1-2) in how to view the “burden,” and we need to come to Jesus who promises rest.

While I do not like to admit it, when I think I have heavy burdens, often it is because I am thinking more about circumstances or myself than I am about God and others. How easy it is to focus on the problems of life rather that the promises of God! It really boils down to self-centeredness and thinking about how circumstances and people are affecting me. The burden is really only a “burden” because I view it that way, rather than viewing it as a privilege or opportunity. Viewing challenging circumstances in the light of the Truth is part of renewing one’s mind. Consider the Apostle Paul’s exhortation.

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9)

Yet, there are times when we have a legitimate burden. If fact, the burden may exist because we are thinking of others and we want to help them in their time of difficulty or sorrow. Again, the Apostle Paul illuminates what it means to “fulfill the law of Christ.”

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. (Galatians 6:1-6)

Whether the burden is perceived because of our self-centeredness, or the burden is real because of challenges in our life or in the lives of others who we are trying to help, the correct approach and response is to come to JESUS who “hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4).

Jesus was a “man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53: 3) and understands whatever burden you may be experiencing. He, by the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth (John 16:13), helps us understand if we are being self-centered and need to change our attitude, or if we just need some time of rest and renewal. Jesus is the only true source of comfort, peace, and refreshment. He promises that if we come to him, surrender to His lordship, and allow Him to carry the burden, we will experience “rest” in our soul. All of the following Scriptures are invitations from God to come to Him and each one promises a reward, including rest, strength, relational blessing, and joy.

Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. (Psalm 27:13-14)

In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul. (Psalm 138:3)

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. (James 4:8)

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. (I Peter 5:7)

Coming to Jesus is part of taking up your cross (Matthew 16:24). It is an act of humility to acknowledge that God is our strength, peace, and rest. While we are to come daily to Jesus, there are occasions when we need extra time of rest and refreshment in the Lord. Jesus even told His disciples to “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat” (Mark 6:31).

Take extra time on a regular basis to come to Jesus to cast all your cares upon Him and to rejoice in Him. Remember “without me [Jesus] ye can do nothing” (John 15:5) but “if ye abide in me [Jesus], and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7), and “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

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About the Author

Professor Robert J. Barth
A graduate of the University of Illinois (B.S. 1976), Professor Robert J. Barth received his Juris Doctor from Southern Illinois University School of Law in 1979. He received his Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Regent University in 1986. From 1986 to 1995, Professor Barth was associated with Regent University School of Law in several capacities, including assistant dean for academic and student affairs, and editor of the Journal of Christian Jurisprudence. He has written several articles, and as the director for academic programs, he has authored Oak Brook College’s book, Renewing Your Mind as You Study Law.

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