Obediently Yoked

Obediently Yoked
“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.” – Matthew 11:28-30

Too often, our lives leave us both weary and heavy laden. We struggle to find our life's purpose and to find “happiness”, only to be rewarded with hectic schedules, debt, and anxiety. We have worked to maintain control only to see our lives spiral. Even though many of us have accepted Jesus as our Savior, our lives are still characterized by the same issues as the worldly culture we have supposedly left behind: failed marriages, divorce, bankruptcy and so on. Then we may conclude that joy and peace are beyond our reach, yet Jesus gave us the solution in a metaphor that may be beyond our modern comprehension.

Prior to tractors, a yoke was placed on draft animals such as oxen to harness them to a plow. It limited the freedom of the ox and made them subservient to their master. Attempting to do what they desired resulted in painful and frustrating consequences; however, when they obeyed the plowman and labored for their common purpose, the yoke made the job easier. The animal could be guided, and its strength was focused on cultivating the ground. The will of the master was fulfilled, and the animal served a productive purpose. Their labor not only brought forth enough grain for the animal’s own nourishment, but it created an abundance which supported the farmer's family and blessed the entire community. All that was needed was a knowledgeable master and a humble creature that was willing to submit to the master’s yoke.

Earlier, I noted our too familiar struggles in this world even though we have made Jesus our Savior. Notice I failed to include the additional title of Lord. We often accept His sacrifice for sins while we attempt to maintain control over our lives. We are like the ox that fails to submit to the yoke and guidance of the master's hand, and we suffer the consequences. Paul warns in Galatians 5:17 that the Spirit and the flesh are in opposition to one another so that, “you may not do the things that you please.”

He then breaks down the “deeds” of the flesh: “sexual immorality, impurity, idolatry, sorcery, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, envying, and drunkenness” (Galatians 5:19-21) versus the “fruit” of the Spirit: "love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, humility, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).” Notice the difference? Deeds are what result from when we act according to the flesh. They are what we do. Fruit occurs as a result of simply being what God created us to be and following His Spirit.

An apple tree does not labor to make apples. They occur naturally. Then the fruit serves to make more apple trees. Paul instructs us to be led by the Spirit, who is our yoke that brings forth fruit through a willing vessel. All we need to do is submit and be the body of Christ. When we accept our yoke, it results in submitting our will to the Master. Because we are not holding the reigns, we do not have to worry about the way or the destination. His yoke is easy, and the burden is light, for He is our strength for the journey and the One who knows the way. Joy and peace permeate the Christian's life because we are fulfilling our God-given purpose and thus know the reward that awaits us in heaven.

As this world devolves into disorder and chaos, our yokes serve as a foundation, for the Master is coming for those who hear His voice and heed the call. Our mission is being lights that show the way to those living in darkness, and our fruit is in making more servants of the Master. We do not have to labor on our own or have everything figured out, for Jesus knows the way, and He is driving. Therefore, we can trust Him to produce a bountiful harvest as we become what He has called us to be – faithful servants.