March 05, 2014Burdens. Some can be borne with relative ease while others prove too heavy to carry. The worst burdens are those we create for ourselves.
I played golf with my brother yesterday afternoon (bear with me now you non-golfers). I had been nursing what is termed "Golfer's elbow" for the past several months. The pain from said elbow had significantly curtailed my golf outings as well as my golfing skill – which is in short supply anyway – during that period of time. All of that to say that I was nervous about how my first attempt at eighteen holes would go after carrying the burden of a throbbing elbow for so long.
As much as I would like to I will not bore you with a stroke by stroke commentary of each hole I played, except to say that I played very well! For me. And with the exception of one hole, the eleventh. On that hole I had landed my ball behind a very tall tree. To approach the green I had two options, I could try to hit the ball over the tree and onto the green or punch the ball out to the fairway and then take an unobstructed stroke to the green. So do you have that in your mind? Over the tree is one stroke. Punch to the fairway and then the green is two strokes. In golf fewer strokes is better.
When I play with my son he is often behind the tree I was behind. And I always tell him, "Trees are trouble, just punching out to the fairway is your best option." So I took aim and swung my club with a mighty effort … to make it over that tree. Four strokes later I landed my ball on the green.
In Matthew 23:3 Jesus spoke to his followers about the religious leaders of the day and said this, "All that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them."
Ouch! Who says the Bible is not relevant to our everyday?
Jesus declared that commanding and not doing creates heavy burdens for others and then describes some of those religious burdens religious people create. It is an important lesson. But the instruction I am interested in sharing with you, and which is easy to miss, comes a bit later in the chapter when Jesus pronounces several "woes" on the religious. In essence Jesus is revealing that when one creates burdens for others which one does not carry himself or herself that person ends up with an even greater burden.
Burden-makers live with a constant sense of failure because they know they do not live up to the perfection they demand of others. They live in fear that others will discover this about them so they build relational walls and isolate themselves from those who would probably be the most accepting of them. Instead they end up with people just like them. Thus their relationships are shallow, competitive, angry and conflictive.
Burden-makers are encumbered with a great weight of emptiness. So hardened and blind do burden-makers become that they live insensitive to their own paucity. They are without mercy. They have forgotten how to love and have never learned how to forgive. They claim a superior knowledge of God and his ways but are devoid of the presence of God.
Burden-makers are surrounded by fractured relationships, live with diminished health, and produce higher guilt scores than those to whom they are so free to dispense advice. They carry these burdens of "unhealth" because they missed the truth about God that he is the great burden carrier (Matthew 11:28-30).
As for me, next time I am punching out to the fairway.
Saying and doing with you!
Pastor David Greiner is lead pastor at Pauma Valley Community Church and would love to welcome you at 9:30 a.m. services Sunday. Go to paumavalleychurch.com for more information.