Jesus’ teachings can startle you when they seem to be contradictory. How can you die to live, labor to rest, or give to receive? The paradoxes Jesus presents bring you face-to-face with the fact that you can’t know all the answers about life – but you can know the One who designed it.


Pondering the paradoxes can lead you to trust Jesus more, and experience the peace that only He can give. Here’s how you can learn from Jesus’ paradoxes:


* Laboring to rest: Hear God’s call to follow Him and accept the “yoke” of discipleship. But realize that, while discipleship demands your whole life, it also renews you. Unlike self-imposed burdens (such as laboring at a job you don’t like), serving Jesus brings you joy and fresh energy as God empowers you. Understand that if you’re willing to commit your life to Jesus, the effort will be worthwhile and lead to rest, peace, and freedom you couldn’t find otherwise. Spend time in prayer regularly, and give your worries and burdens to Jesus, trusting that He will help you rest from your weariness.


* Walking by faith, not by sight: Realize the difference between sight and insight. Understand that there’s much more to the world than the physical aspects you can see. Ask God to give you the faith to see the world more and more as He sees it. Rather than trusting in what you see (which is temporary), place your trust in what you don’t see (which is eternal). Commit your dreams and goals to God, remembering that He has a plan that transcends what you can see as you move through life. Choose to live not according to your own limited view, but by the limitless possibilities of God. Ask God to transform you as you do so.


* Giving to receive: Know that you can ultimately get much more from giving away what you have than from holding on tightly to it. Understand that God wants you to learn through giving that He matters more than anything else. Realize that happiness doesn’t come from material gain, but from becoming more like God, who gives generously. Ask God to help you break free from selfishness that ultimately robs your joy. Measure your life by who you are rather than what you own. Recognize that your worth transcends your assets; you’re pricelessly valuable to God, even when you’re financially broke. Remember that all you have is a gift that ultimately belongs to God. Decide to use those gifts well by giving to others as God leads. Trust that, in giving, you’ll receive joy from God that is worth far more than anything you could give.