Years ago when I was in high school, the mother of a friend of mine was trying to lose weight. Her doctor told her that every extra pound of body fat was like carrying an extra pound of butter. My friend’s mom was carrying a lot of “butter” and wisely took the physician’s advice to heart to save her life.
Burdens are like gaining weight. It creeps up on us. One day our clothes feel a bit tight, then our pants no longer button, and finally we start living in Spandex-like clothes without doing anything about the continual weight gain.
Jesus said, “For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:30). The word for burdens used in this verse refers to the burdensome laws and obligations demanded by the Pharisees that were never God’s intent. The freedom of grace offered by the Lord was in stark contrast to the burdens of law piled on by the Pharisees that added oppressive weight to people’s faith.
One definition of the word “burden” is “an invoice.” It is like a shipping invoice for a shipment of freight. We need to check the invoice of our faith freight invoice to see if what we have been told to carry is easy to bear or we will live under the weight of things the Lord never intended us to carry. Those extra pounds of bondage are things like attempting to manipulate the will of another person, trying to attain personal perfection, paralyzing fear of failure, or the belief that somehow our sins are too much for God’s love to overcome. The burdens the Lord has us carry are light in weight enabling our faith to be quick and mobile, not heavy, and paralyzed.
The extra pounds of religious butter we pick up along the way is something we must remove, or the health of our faith will begin to decline and keep us sitting on a spiritual couch immobile under the weight of what has been imposed on us.
Dealing with the unnecessary burdens we have been told we must carry is a form of personal spiritual warfare. Like it is when committing to a program of diet and exercise to create overall physical and emotional health, we are the only ones who can make such a choice when it comes to our spiritual health. It is an important battle to engage or someday if left unattended, our faith will experience a spiritual cardiac arrest leaving us dead under the unnecessary weight of religious burdens the Lord never intended us to carry.