The special talent of humanity is in our ability to take a gift, something meant to be a blessing, and to turn it into a burden. This has to grieve God’s heart. Jesus reminded the Pharisees of this when they turned a holy day into a day of shackles. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).
All of this life is a gift. And so far as our lives today are lived in Christ, they are part of the eternal life that is discussed so happily in the New Testament (John 3:16). Eternal life, certainly, is not intended to be a burden.
God told Moses about the land of Canaan, “I am giving (it) to the people of Israel.” The land was a gift and made up the biggest portion of God’s covenant promises to his people (Genesis 17:8). They were to be a mighty nation living in their own land.
By the time the spies returned, however, the land seemed to them no longer what it once was. It no longer was a gift. It had become a burden to them. “We came to the land to which you sent us.” The cities were fortified, and the people were giants. The spies seemed to be saying, “This is not our land. This is only land where we’ve been sent, against our will.”
This was a tragedy – as much of a tragedy as when Eve felt burdened because she could not eat that one forbidden fruit. The land was lost to those who turned the blessing into a burden. They stopped trusting in the word of God. The promise of the covenant was out of their reach. They’d lost faith.
Is your life in Christ a blessing or a burden? If it feels like a burden, you might consider whether you really are believing in the power of God. He is more than able to overcome fortified city walls and towering giants – and anything else. Do you have the faith of Caleb, who was ready to “go up at once” even as his brothers doubted?
The gift only remains a gift if we continue to receive it as such – in faith. And the pure joy of the gift emerges when we hold it in faith.