It was Jesus that said, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” recorded in Matthew 11:30. It comes in response to the heavy responsibilities laid upon the people who followed the religious practices of the day. So in contrast the way of Jesus was not burdened with a strict legalistic approach to life.
Yet as was proved in a recent meeting I was a part of many Christians are burdened by care and the need that is seen around them. To coin one of Rob Bell’s phrases people are drowning in goodness. We do not need laws to see that our neighbour is suffering. Yet the question raised in the group revolved around the boundary between compassion and looking after self. Our load may not be firewood perched on our head but our compassion can weigh us down. How long before the load becomes too much that we cannot journey on under the strain.
Our conclusion from the group is that we need to do a spiritual M.O.T. every now and then. We all need to retreat from need to fully live ourselves. It is always worth employing the wisdom of close friends in this task, but the crucial dimension is being truthful with ourselves. Compassion is a human trait, but we must each remember that the One we follow employed downtime and space away from need. The balance between care of self and care of others is never easy but if we fail to get it right then Jesus may want to say the words of Matthew 11:30 to us direct.
Image by Mark Boulton via Twelvebaskets.