One of my ALL time favorite verses is
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
I remember the first time I read this verse it really spoke to me I had an overwhelming urge to study the verse and dissect it into my understanding! First I started with my dictionary, I find that learning the meaning of words (or replacing them with their meaning) really helps me grab hold of concepts better. Here is what I came up with (notice the words that are bold above are the words I exchanged for their meanings):
Matthew 11:28-30 (with Webster’s definitions)
"Come to me all you who are (exhausted in strength, endurance, vigor, or freshness) and (are depressed or worrisome, bearing a load), and I will give you (freedom from activity of labor and peace of mind and spirit). Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am (kind, soft, delicate and moderate) and (not proud or haughty, not arrogant or aggressive) in heart, and you will find (freedom from activity of labor and peace of mind and spirit) for your souls. For my yoke is (not severe, nor abrupt, not difficult to endure or undergo, but marked by peace and comfort, free from pain, annoyance, or anxiety, not burdensome or strained, fitting comfortably, allowing freedom of movement) and my burden is (easy to bear, not burdensome, easy to do, not difficult, not burdened with grief or sorrow).
After reading the verse the word yoke really struck me as something that I needed to learn about Webster’s defines a yoke as:
1. A wooden frame or bar with loops or bows at either end, fitted around the necks of a pair of oxen, etc. for harnessing them together.
2. Any mark or symbol of bondage or servitude.
3. Something that binds, unites, or connects
This understanding brought to me the thought “what are you bound, united and connected to?” if we are following the world and carrying the worlds yoke the Bible tells us in Galations 5:19-21 “19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” I don’t know about you but that kind of yoke scares me! That is not the woman that I want to want to be! I would so much rather wear a Godly yoke such as that in Galations 5:22-25 “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
It is far better to walk under a Godly servitude by placing his yoke upon our shoulders, than to allow the devil’s yoke to kill us in such painful ways! When I reached this understanding I thought I was done in my research… however God still was not done unfolding understanding with in me! He then showed me that even as Christians that have chosen to wear God’s yoke we can find ourselves ill fitted in the yoke department. There are three yokes that we as Christians can wear;
1. The yoke that is too small: Hebrews 11:6 “…without faith it is impossible to please God” When we wear a yoke that is too small it cuts off our oxygen so that we can not breath. This is when we are not stepping out in faith and following what God has called us to do. We are sitting on the outside watching all of God’s goodness pass us by. James 2:14 “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?” James 2:18-19 “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” We become so frustrated because we don’t understand why our relationship with God isn’t growing! He seems to be blessing everyone else around us, however if we would only step out in faith and allow God to use us and allow ourselves to grow with God we would find peace and joy knowing we are correctly fitted in our yoke and walking rightly within God’s plan for us.
2. The yoke that is too big: When we wear a yoke that is too big it falls off of our shoulders because it is too loose, we are constantly reaching down to pull it back on and we become exhausted. Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” When we try to take on too much and step ahead of God’s timing we are placing a burden on our shoulders that we are not yet ready for. Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways.” Proverbs 16:32 “Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.” Just as God wants us to step out in faith and act, he also wants us to wait for his timing. Just as we grow in age from infant to adult we must take those same steps with God. We would not expect our 2 year old to drive a car, in the same way God would not place a 2 day old Christian in the position of Senior Pastor because he is not yet equipped for the challenge. We can not act and then ask God for his blessing, we must wait on his perfect timing.
3. The yoke that fits perfectly: When we wear a yoke that fits perfectly we can grow and cultivate our relationship with God our creator! This is the hardest yoke by far to wear for we must continue to crucify our flesh and submit ourselves to God 2 Chronicles 30:8 “Do not be stubborn, as they were, but submit yourselves to the Lord. Come to his Temple, which he has set apart as holy forever. Worship the Lord your God” Ephesisans 4:23 “And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude].” When we accept the correctly fitted yoke upon ourselves we will begin to see a great change, we will be able to walk in our calling that God has for us! Will there be challenges? Oh yes, there will be days when we want to give up and surrender our calling but we must remember what we are told in James 1:2-4 “when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” The correctly fitted yoke allows God to work in your life because you will be in the exact place where he needs you. Have the confidence and boldness to claim that blessing that God has for you by wearing that perfectly fitted yoke, given time it will grow as you do! You can not force it or make it happen before it’s time, simply walk with God and take his yoke upon you, and learn from him!
It is time for you to make a choice! Study what God has said in his word. Search your own life and heart; be honest! What are you bound, united and connected to?