"Come unto Me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
The above words can be quite comforting once their importance is properly understood. In this question from Jesus we must ask whom does He mean? Who are bidden to come to Him so they may obtain rest?
Ask yourself what the greatest affliction of soul which sinners in this world experience? Is it not sin? Sin is the thing which people labor under because it is a heavy burden too great to carry by frail mortals.
Ask the mother who lost her dear daughter from a car crash if she ever labored under the sin of her own drunkenness? Or consider the gambler who spent his families last $100 on a poker game in Las Vegas and couldn't afford to feed his children without going on a venture to steal from his neighbor. This is why Jesus calls to those who feel their sins as a heavy burden to come unto Him. Only by coming to Jesus can we find rest for our souls.
The world and the Devil try to trick us into finding rest by gaining more of this sinful world and more of the flesh but this will only lead to death "for to be carnally mind is death but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." Romans 8:6
The rich may be happy to have escaped poverty but if they are like most sinners they are proud in heart because of their riches and so are an abomination to the Lord. Proverbs 6:5
The rich usually trust in themselves and their worldly wisdom more than their Creator who gives them the power to get wealth. These individuals seldom come to Christ because they do not labor and are not heavy laden. These rich folks think too well of themselves. If they know nothing that truly counts like godliness yet they know how to get rich and so pride feels their brains and they fall under God's curse.
Poverty itself is no blessing for it is possible to be poor in this world and also poor in the world to come. Many who are poor are tempted to steal with little means to provide for their security and living. If truth be told it is also possible to be rich in this world and yet poor in eternity. Few are rich in this life and rich in the Lord for eternity. In the final analysis neither poverty nor riches make a person fit for God's holy heaven but rather a new heart, i.e. a new creation in Christ. 2 Cor 5:17
Some think that those who Christ bids come to Him are physically the sick and afflicted. This does not seem to be the context and so I would believe this to be a misreading of scripture. It is very possible to have physical trouble in this life and trouble in that to come. How is this possible? A person may be a kind of gypsy or wanderer in life despising material things and be no better off with the Master and Lord of Creation. He may be a lazy good for nothing sort of person who sees no value in work but who likes to mooch off others kindness. This person's health may be poor but this doesn't in itself merit favor with God. There are a great many like this in the world. The welfare state has a ready arm to feed the most slothful of souls who may or may not be physically sick. You may find that such a person is as fit for hell as the worse kind of sinner who practiced violence and murder for a living. None go to heaven simply by how much they've suffered in this life.
How We Must See the Meaning of laboring and heavy laden
This laboring that Jesus speaks about I believe describes all who are burdened and pressed down in their soul by a feeling of sin. We are talking about a spiritual awakening to one's sinful condition. Now this pressing down may also press down the body by illness and disease (the internal is causative to the external) and so the whole person becomes as a spiritual leopard who is inclined to cry "Woe is me for I am undone." It describes all those people whom God has worked upon by His Holy Spirit to convince them of sin and whose consciences condemn them for their many transgressions of God's holy commandments.
Many of God's elect in time see their fighting against the law and their failure to keep it and this is a laboring under the burden of the covenant of works that God mad with Adam and his descendants. All who are in Adam are dead in trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1) and so are guilty and spiritually naked before God. These people need to have the load of guilt lifted from their back but only if these people feel their heavy load of sin pressing down on their weak frame will they seek to be free from such a burden in Christ. Only if these kind of sinners see their spiritual nakedness will these seek to be clothed with the white raiment of Christ's righteousness.
It is a good thing to be concerned about your soul for we read in Mark 8:36 "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" The answer is there is no profit to gain a world or even a million worlds if you lose your soul. The problem with most people today is that they are proud and very content in their spiritual condition. Ask the average person if they deserve hell and they'll say "no". These people think they are pretty good and not that bad. Such is the deception today among both non-professing Christians and professing Christians.
Friend are you concerned about your salvation? If so, that is a good thing to be concerned about.
Most people are concerned about how they can get more of this world, how they can play the stock market or make a good business venture that will turn into millions and set them upon an early retirement so they can live a life of ease as if this would make them truly happy and set them in a right standing with almighty God. Only a fool runs such a course. No amount of worldly wealth can atone for your sins. Unless Christ has paid the price for your sins and has spoken peace to your soul by granting you repentance and faith then you have no forgiveness and no true happiness.
The fifth chapter of Matthew spells out the secret to happiness or blessedness. Read the beatitudes very carefully and meditate on Christ's greatest sermon.
I find today in the local churches all too many professing Christians who are too smug and think themselves God's chosen because they believe certain doctrines of grace known as the five points of Calvinism. These people can wax eloquent on the finer points of theology but these people can never seem to move a finger to love their neighbor as Christ commands and so the world does not see them as true Christians.
Many others who know nothing of these doctrines of Calvinism and who in fact despise them (even though they are Biblically sound teachings) carry about them an equally erroneous attitude of self-righteousness and hypocrisy just as great as the former.
The question is have you ever trembled at the thought of the final judgment and of hell? Are you afraid of God's wrath and condemnation? If not then you are like the fool who hears the words of Jesus but you built your house on sand and when the winds blows and the rain falls your house will come tumbling down. By this you may understand your life and your whole way of living will be destroyed as you perish forever when God calls you out of this life and into the the judgment hall of eternity.
DO YOU LONG FOR HEAVEN?
That is a good thing but long for it under the right attitude. Do not think you will enter into the presence of God with a love of this world and all of the sinful pleasures of life. The Bible never, never promises such a worthy possession as Jesus Christ and His eternal inheritance to those who love and practice sin. 1 John 3:8 says "He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil."
NOTE: To commit means to practice and whoever PRACTICES SIN as a part of their daily, weekly, month to month life is OF THE DEVIL. This is terrible language and it should cause us no lack of concern because the Devil has from the time he fell practiced sin. Those who practice sin are like the Devil and not like Jesus.
Anybody who lives like the Devil by practicing sin can know of certain they are not in the Kingdom of God. They should rightfully question their profession of faith and examine themselves as the apostle Paul exhorted to see if they are in the faith.
I've known many to have lived in sin but who deceived themselves that all was well with their soul. May the Lord deliver such from their wicked way "for there is a way that seems right to a man but the end thereof are the ways of death." Pro 16:25
If you have been taught that you can have heaven and the world at the same time then you have been deceived by some false preacher. "Love NOT the world, nor the things that are in the world" said John in 1 John 2:15. All who love the world do not have the love of the Father in them. This much we can be sure.
Consider the state of mind of the Jews to whom Peter preached on the day of Pentecost. Their consciences were awakened when Peter preached to them the powerful word of truth. They were pricked in their hearts. They felt condemned for what they had done and when Peter had finished the Bible records in Acts 2:37 "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"
Turn to Acts 9:6 and you will find this was the state of mind in which Saul was when Jesus met him going to Damascus, and threw him to the ground. A bright shining light like the sun blinded Saul and he got a sight of his enormous sin and danger; and we read that, trembling and astonished, he said, "Lord, what will You have me to do?"
In Acts 16:31 we read the account of the Philippian jailer. He was awakened from his sleep by an earthquake and his fear brought his sin to his remembrance, and he came and fell down before Paul and Silas, and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
You need to know that you will never come to Christ as a sinner until you feel your need of Christ and confess Him as your Lord. We read in Romans 10:9-10 "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in thine heart that God raised Him from the dead you shall be saved."
Determine to serve Jesus no matter what the cost even if he should damn you. As one theologian said long ago "How many are willing to be damned for the glory of God?" We often view salvation as getting some kind of "fire insurance" to keep us out of hell. Once the fire insurance is obtained we think we can live as we please. Never does the Bible allow for this kind of demonic thinking. It was the Devil's lie who said, "You shall not surely die." Away with such thinking. Sin brings death "for the wages of sin is DEATH." Romans 6:23
Look to Him alone who can save you but never be so presumptious as to think yourself saved because of something you have done or said. It is not our prayers and tears or alms deeds that commend us to God. It is not rubbing a set of rosary beads together that will wipe away our filthy sins and cleanse our souls. No, but it is the saving grace of a gracious and loving God who by His goodness leads us to repentance. We must come to see ourselves as worthy of judgment and hell and then cast ourselves on the mercy of the Lord.
How can people and preachers be so careless today to preach peace peace to men's souls when there is no peace saith God to the wicked? The proud in heart are an abomination to the Lord and yet we find so much pride in the local religious congregations of this generation.
Have you been pricked in your conscience and cut to the heart for your past sins? Have you mourned and spent time reflecting on you rebellious attitude toward your parents. Has your covetous heart and greed for unrighteous mammon not marked you as a worker of iniquity ready to be cast into hell upon your departure from this world?
Here is hope.
Labor to get a right sense of your sin and then if you feel your need of forgiveness and the sorrow of sin and the heavy burden sin and guilt overwhelms you then do as Jesus said, "Come unto me!" This is the call and command "Come unto me!" Not some but all who labor and are heavy laden and cast your burden upon the Lord. Sin is the greatest burden we mortals can bear and it is far far too heavy a burden for any mortal to shoulder.
Can you dear reader receive these words of Jesus? This word of salvation and comfort is only for those who labor. Are you laboring and are you tired and ready to cease from your own wisdom in trying to devise your own salvation by the intellect and by doing certain good deeds? Your thoughts are not high enough nor your deeds good enough to please God for "they that are in the flesh CAN NOT please God." Romans 8:8
Let none despair of God's mercy however a great sinner you are. If you have a beating heart and your eyes have not shut permanently then you can be saved today. The Bible is full of sinners as great or greater than yourself. Manasseth was a murderer, Zacchaeus was guilty of cheating others and so an extortioner, Mary Magdalen was a harlot or in today's language a whore but she found God's mercy and forgiveness.
Can you say finally after all your years of living in sin and selfishness deceived by your own foolish heart "oh, happy day when Jesus washed my sins away."
Again I ask the question: Are you laboring and heavy laden? If you are satisfied in your present state but have never had a time when you sorrowed under such a record of your many sins then do not speak peace to your soul. You in all likelihood are yet unconverted. You have no true communion with God. You may be a pretender to the faith like I was for many years, that is, you are satisfied that you are not that bad or if you sense your badness yet you have no true godliness but only of form of it. Such people still love and practice their favorite sins. They have not repented nor come to Jesus by saving faith.
Perhaps you have a pretty good opinion of yourself and so may not be laboring and be of heavy laden. Please do not count yourself a Christian yet but do not despair of hope either. Continue to seek the Lord and pray He might show you your many sins and that you might find them to be hateful and loathsome to the core of your being. Count them as a putrid corpse and deadly snake from which to be far removed. Stay away from all sin if you would desire the salvation of the Lord. Anything less is just playing games with the Almighty who will not tolerate foolish pranks for long.
Do not say your are okay while you continue unarrested in your sins and by your wicked and wayward heart but know that the heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9
Your hard and adamant heart must be broken. Jesus said whoever falls upon this rock will be broken but on whomsoever it falls will be crushed.
At last you must see your guilt and feel your danger before the final hour when your life is spent and gone. Life is short and death is certain. Burn those words into your brain. When once you have begun to see your true sinfulness and mourn because of those sins then you may have come to the Lord Jesus Christ to obtain pardon. You will never get to heaven except you have answered the call to come unto Jesus because you were once laboring and heavy laden. May it be so with you today. That is my prayer.
Carlton Pruitt ministers the gospel to the Los Angeles area. Formerly a Hollywood actor (SAG member)and junk removal expert he now spends most of his time studying the scriptures, writing articles, hymns and poems and doing street preaching.
See his videos on http://www.youtube.com Type LAStreetPreacher in the search bar. CONTACT at Carlton2061@gmail.