“Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27, NIV). “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Mathew 11:30, NIV).
Not only do we share our burdens to lighten our load. We also shoulder them so the Holy Spirit can develop our character. Sharing a burden may lighten a load, but it doesn't take away whatever you are carrying. What you are carrying may cause pain and discomfort. We all hate to “feel” uncomfortable. How many times have you wanted nothing more than to feel at ease over your burden? Your mind might race in ways to work everything out comfortably, but have you considered that maybe God doesn’t want you to work out your problem comfortably? What does working something out so you can feel comfortable have to do with God’s will for your life? Carrying and shouldering a burden is not comfortable, but it is God's will if you want be His disciple. It is His will if you desire for your character to be molded and shaped into His image.
In Luke 14:16-20, Jesus actually talked about how people desire to “feel” comfortable. This is the parable of a man who gave a dinner party. Invitations were sent out, and excuses were given.
“Listen, I’ve just purchased some land.”
“I just got married.”
“Oh, too bad! I’m just on my way to try out a new yoke!”
Each excuse revealed an inconvenience. Inconvenience and feeling comfortable are not compatible. Jesus has issued an invitation to take up your cross and follow Him. That is inconvenient. Is it comfortable? Hardly. But if you decline His invitation you miss the value of a wilderness experience.
The value offered for a wilderness experience is “character”. A few words that come to mind are honesty, integrity, and diligence. You don’t develop character through easy times. You must be willing to launch out into the deep; be willing to feel uncomfortable; be willing to experience vulnerability; and be willing to run the race set before you. How we in our humanness long to avoid the discipline of the race! But Jesus wishes us to be like Him.
“For this very reason,” Peter writes, “make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love” (2 Peter 1:5-7, NIV). Feeling comfortable or escaping a lesson to be learned is not making an effort to add anything to your life. You accepted Jesus into your heart by faith. God's desire is for you to add these virtues in your life. For example, how is goodness added to faith? Testing of your faith can cause bitterness or it can produce goodness. Will you learn from your experience? Will you accept the invitation and shoulder your burden? Will you carry your cross which actually shall become lighter as you grow spiritually? Or are you too busy like the excuses given in the parable? Are you trying out your own yoke instead of His? Remember His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. Comfortable, it’s not. To add the other virtues in 2 Peter 1:5-7, you must surrender continually over and over again.
What is the result? “If you possess these qualities in increasing measure,” Peter writes, “they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8, NIV). His love overflows in your life. His training in righteousness creates a desire to me more like Him. For these qualities that Peter writes about to be real in your life and in mine, we need to shoulder whatever burden He sends or allows with a positive attitude. To understand the depth of His power found at the mountain's summit, we must allow the valley to refine our character and lighten our load.