Do you check your baggage?
Normally I do.
But I didn’t on a recent trip to California, thinking it’d be quicker to get in and out of the airport if I didn’t have to wait for suitcases.
For the first time in a long while I struggled through a crowded airport, weighed down and slowed, silently envying those who moved about freely. When it comes to airports, the simplest tasks are complicated with baggage.
You know, a lot of us live our entire lives this way, lugging around the heavy baggage of guilt, bitterness and worry. We end up weighed down, envying – or even resenting – those who don’t seem saddled with such things.
It pays to check your baggage.
But it also costs to check your baggage. It costs faith in God. And faith demands that we live by truth, not feelings.
Consider the freedom from worry. It will cost us faith in the goodness and attentiveness of God.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus put it this way: “Do not worry about your life … Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
It takes faith to leave our future to the God who controls it and cares for us. Yet lugging around the baggage of worry over tomorrow robs us of freedom to enjoy today.
Bitterness is a heavy piece of baggage we’re reluctant to release. Somehow it feels right to store the memory of past pain or offenses against us. But a settled, simmering anger against another person – or life itself – hurts us even more than it hurts others.
Worse yet, bitterness offends God, whose lavish forgiveness of our sins is tarnished by our score-keeping hearts.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior,” says the Apostle Paul to the Ephesians. “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
That last part is important. It reminds us that God has graciously made provision to take upon himself the heaviest baggage that weighs us down – guilt over our own failures, our own sin.
We live in a culture that offers many hollow solutions to the baggage of guilt. Blame your past. Blame other people. Blame the environment you’re in … anything to avoid guilt.
And yet our consciences tell us otherwise: We don’t measure up to our own standards, let alone God’s.
To the guilty, Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
Jesus, God himself, took the heavy burden of condemnation for our sin upon himself at Calvary’s cross. And he invites us to trust in what he has done for us – leaving our guilt, shame and regret over sin with him.
Yes, it costs to check the baggage of guilt. It costs faith – complete trust in what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.
When it comes to guilt, a lot of us are harder on ourselves than God is; he is eager to forgive and unburden repentant sinners.
“Take my yoke upon you,” says Jesus. “Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
A heart unburdened through faith in Jesus is a heart that can trust him for lesser things, rather than be saddled with worry, and extend the same forgiveness to others, rather than grow bitter.
Have you checked your baggage?
Steve Massey is pastor of Hayden Bible Church (www.haydenbible.org). He can be reached at (208) 772-2511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.