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0207 PD: His Yoke is Easy

Yevet Tenney Published on 06 February 2007

The Bible is an unending river of goodness and wisdom. When I was a child it was a library of compelling stories my parents and my Sunday school teachers used to coach me about the perils and evil persuasions of life. David and Goliath became my fight against the challenges of life.

Daniel in the lions’ den showed me that God’s way is always the best way, and the three Hebrews who were thrown into the fiery furnace taught me that God is always with me even in misfortune. The sorrowful stories like David and Bathsheba, and Samson and Delilah, taught me that wickedness is not happiness and it never will be.

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As I grew older the doctrine became important pieces to the puzzle of God’s nature. I wanted to know Him, and I wanted to have the blessings He offers in my life. I wanted to be like Him. “For this is life eternal to know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent.” I want life eternal. Not the never-dying part, but the ever-after-death part. The Bible became a script in the drama of life.

Phrases like, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” became my pattern for living. Advice like, “Love your enemies, do good to those who despitefully use you and persecute you,” gave me a better choice when someone teased and ridiculed me during my teen years. “Love the Lord with all thy heart and thy neighbor as thyself,” instilled in me a mindset of love towards all humanity.

During my senior years, I look back at life and see the beautiful patterns of obedience as they unfolded in my life. On the other hand, I see the misery-filled patterns of disobedience as they unfolded in the lives of those who chose not to take the scriptures as their guide. As the drama of my life draws toward the final curtain, the plot has been danced upon the stage, and the characters are being set in stone. There are no questions about the outcome. The scriptures are true, and the advice is worth following.

One of my favorite scriptures comes to mind. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me. For I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11: 29-30). This scripture is literally fulfilled in my life.

What is Christ’s burden? When I think of a yoke, the image comes to mind of someone carrying buckets of water on either end of a wooden device that fits on their shoulders. Or I see oxen bound together with a huge heavy wooden collar that rests on their necks. The yoke keeps the oxen moving in unison. In both cases, most of the burden rests on the yoke, leaving the person or the oxen free to move under the heavy weight.

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The yoke becomes a perfect image for the habits we form in life. Each of us is bound by our habits. We get up in the morning and pick up the same shoe and put it on our foot. We put the same sleeve in our shirt and put the same leg first in our pair of pants. Our hands are clasp with the same lacing of our fingers. Try clasping your fingers together in a different pattern and see how strange it feels. For example, if you normally clasp your hand with the right pinky on the bottom of the handclasp, try putting the left pinky on the bottom of the handclasp. If you have never done it before, you will feel strange.

Habits are good things. They save us time and energy in decision making over trivial matters, but they can also be bad. Habits of laziness and procrastination keep us from accomplishing all we could in our lives. Habits of drunkenness, gluttony and unleashed anger cause problems not only for us, but also for our family.

If the yoke is a metaphor for our habits, then certainly the burden is a perfect metaphor for the consequences we receive for the choices we make and the habits that we form. If we look at our habits as a yoke, it is easy to see why Christ’s yoke is easy. His consequences are light.

Christ’s teachings are simple and straightforward. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you are not likely to steal from your neighbor, have an affair with his wife or get his children to take drugs. If you truly love your neighbor, you won’t find reasons to gossip or defame someone’s character, no matter how juicy the tidbit of information. What are the consequences for loving your neighbor as yourself? I’ve never seen a family break up because a neighbor loved them too much.

I’ve never seen a child who was addicted to drugs if he or she never tried them, and I’ve never seen a person feel sorrow at having heard a rumor that never got started or was never passed along in idle gossip. The consequences, or burdens of Christ’s yoke, are truly easy.

The Bible is full of advice, which if followed, makes our burdens light. What if we just made a habit of the advice given in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5)? Our life would be a place of Eden. Peace would permeate every level of society.

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“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). Poor in this context means someone who doesn’t have enough of the spirit. If you don’t have enough of something, you crave it and search for it until you find it. If a person seeks for the spirit, he or she will find it and that spirit will lead him or her to the kingdom of God.

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4). This is God’s promise that he will be with us in our trials and problems. Yet if we connect this beatitude to the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves, it is easy to see that the comfort will come to you because you have given that comfort so freely to others.

“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). Meekness has always been a problem to me. I connected it to weakness and submissiveness. I called it the doormat syndrome. That was far from the image I had of my Savior. The Man who stilled the tempest and raised the dead didn’t seem like someone who spent His life being a doormat.

Not long ago I heard a definition of meekness that made perfect sense. A meek person is uncomplaining, endures trials with dignity and humbly accepts the will of God. With that definition, I can see how that type of person would inherit the good things of the earth. He would be a great businessman, a wonderful teacher or a caring doctor. People would flock to him because true humility is a drawing card. Look at the life of Abraham. He was blessed and prospered because of his meekness before God.

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). This beatitude puzzled me when I was a child. Why didn’t more people see God? There were many people in my youth whom I considered pure in heart. As I grew older, I realized that there are many ways of seeing. Your eyes are not the only way to see God. I have seen God in the glory of His creations. I have seen Him in the miracles that have blessed my life. I see Him in the tender mercies that He floods upon me as He answers my prayers. Not that I am pure in heart, but He has allowed me to see Him, and the more I desire His presence, the more He allows me to see Him.

I know there are those who cannot see Him and will never see Him because they close their hearts to Him. They muddy their minds with things of the world. Their minds are filled with toys, imitation happiness, gimmicks and desires for the praises of the world. They travel through life under a different yoke.

The yoke or habits of the world seem light at first, but as the burdens or consequences start to come, life becomes a tangled jungle of despair and sorrow. They run to and fro looking for peace, and it eludes them on every turn. Why? They are looking for peace in all the wrong places. You can’t find peace of mind in the bed of your neighbor’s wife. Peace is not hanging on the money tree. It isn’t driving down a curvy road in a new sports car. It isn’t in the divorce court or the civil court.

You won’t find it dealing drugs or taking drugs. You won’t even find it on the Internet. The only place you will find peace is with the Prince of Peace. He has written a user’s manual, and if you read it, peace will descend upon you as rains from heaven. For His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. PD

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