“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.” (Reference: Matthew 11:28-30 )
Five years ago I wrestled with this verse, and do not feel that I explored all its depths then. Of course now as then I am not sure how it connects to humility. And the historic Anabaptist believer writing does not address the theme of humility either. At least that was my perspective then. But thinking on it now . . . .
Michael Sattler’s writing that is cited with this verses says that we learn from Christ that violence is to be rejected. He said, “Now many, who do not understand Christ’s will for us, ask: whether a Christian may or should use the sword against the wicked for the protection and defense of the good, and for the sake of love.
The answer is unanimously revealed: Christ teaches and commands us to learn from him, for he is meek and lowly of heart and thus we shall find rest for our souls, Matt. 11:29. Now Christ says to the woman taken in adultery, John 8:11, not that she should be stoned according to the law of his Father (and yet he says, “what the Father commanded me, that I do,” John 8:22), but with mercy and forgiveness and the warning to sin no more, says: “Go, sin no more.”
The questions (as I understand it now) is whether we, who are followers of Christ, should defend ourselves to the point of using violence or whether we should not think so much of ourselves that our defense is worthwhile to attack another. The question (as Sattler) sees it was presented to Christ when the woman caught in adultery was brought before him. He was asked by the religious leaders – in a sense – do the laws of Moses need to be defended to the point of bringing violence and death to this woman? Christ answered – again, in a sense – if your own conscience tells you that you are blameless and have not sought to advance yourselves at the cost then you may stone her. Christ did not seek to punish her to advance himself, but rather offered mercy, forgiveness, and a life without sin.
This is not the way we usually think about humility, not being aggressive and insisting on our way. But is it a frequent trait of the historic Anabaptists to not press to the point of violence etc. But to be mild and meed, offering compassion rather than hostility.
May you beloved follow the example of Christ our Lord and go gently in this world. Selah!