Many of us – and I put myself at the very top of this list – struggle with “shoulds, musts, have-tos, and oughts.” You know the drill ... “I should do this, I must do that, I have to do this, I ought to do that.”
The thing is, “shoulds, musts, have-tos, and oughts” are often based on irrational beliefs rather than appropriate expectations. For example:
“I should do this because it is my responsibility to make everyone happy all of the time.”
“I must do that because if I don’t, my entire world will fall down around my ears.”
“I have to do this because I must be perfect.”
“I ought to do that because if I don’t, everyone will be mad at me.
Each of the phrases above that follow the word “because” are irrational beliefs. As such, they create a terrible burden for us. Their unrealistic demands weigh us down because we can never meet them – no matter what we do.
Into this anxiety and pressure comes a beautiful word of hope and peace, recorded in I John 5:3 – “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not burdensome.”
Did you hear that? If we love God, we will keep his commandments. That might feel like a crushing load to us if it were not for the next declaration: “and his commandments are not burdensome.”
Why are God’s commandments not burdensome? Because, as promised in Matthew 11:28-30, someone else is helping us fulfill them – his name is Jesus:
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
So the next time you feel your anxiety ramping up because of “shoulds, musts, have-tos, and oughts” that are weighing you down, pause and take a good look. Remember, “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not burdensome.”