When we submit ourselves to the authority of Christ, take up His yoke, and learn to do God’s will, we will discover true freedom, restfulness, and peace. But first, we need to make sure that we are learning to take up Christ’s yoke—and not anyone else’s.
We can be yoked to all kinds of things. People who are yoked to anything other than the yoke of Christ will find themselves in “the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:26). They may think they are free away from God and His holiness, but they are only deceiving themselves: sin is not freedom, and will never bring true inner peace and rest. Though Jesus’ yoke spells freedom and all others involve bondage, Satan has blinded them into thinking otherwise.
The Yoke of Self
Many people prefer the yoke of self—to do their own will. They want to be in control of their lives because they trust themselves more than anyone else, including God.
They are driven by the exhilaration of doing whatever they want, by their ambition, and by their goal of self-glorification. They seek praise and admiration, covet material prosperity, and hunger for power. And they are unwilling to serve anyone other than themselves. Some end up restless and joyless—they run from one source of entertainment to another, but never find true peace.
What a tragic path this is! First, no one has full control over their own lives. We cannot even be sure of what will happen a minute from now, so how can we be masters of our destiny?
Second, the yoke of self leads to pride and greed. As we seek to follow Christ, we need to beware subconsciously slipping on the yoke of self instead. Self-deception is an ever-present danger—we need to examine ourselves in the presence of God regularly, and have others hold us accountable.
It is possible to do God’s work with great energy and zeal, but without proper submission to Christ. We need to learn to pray like theologian Francois Fenelon: “I love your will better than my bliss.”
The Yoke of Others
Many people also take up the yoke that others have placed on them—they desire to please others at all costs, because they want to be recognised, affirmed, and praised.
They live out the agendas of others, never quite establishing their own identity or life. They may feel frustrated inside, but their need to please others gets the better of them. In Christian service and ministry, it is possible for people to find themselves taking up the yoke of others rather than that of Christ.
After Jesus had ascended to heaven, Peter and John were warned by the insecure and ungodly religious leaders not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. The brave apostles, however, refused to obey them or accept their yoke of oppression.
Instead, they said, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges!” (Acts 4:19). Later, they repeated, “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (5:29). The apostles refused to bear any yoke that would make them disobedient to God; the only acceptable yoke was that of Christ.
The yokes of self and others can damage our souls by leading us away from doing God’s will. They can lead to restlessness or oppression. For this reason, the apostle Paul remained clear about whom He answered to.
In his letter to the Christians in Corinth, he wrote about how his service for God would be judged: “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me” (1 Corinthians 4:3–4).
As far as Paul was concerned, the highest court was in heaven, and the highest judge was God—Paul did not answer to human courts or even to the court within his own heart. Paul remained under the yoke of Christ.
Assess your Christian service. How much of it is the result of taking up Christ’s yoke, and how much comes from being yoked to your own desires or those of others? What are the implications?
Excerpted and adapted from Finding Rest For The Soul by Robert Solomon. © 2016 by Robert Solomon. Used by permission of Discovery House. All rights reserved.
The Heart of Effective Ministry
Although pastoral ministry can be exciting and rewarding, it can also be a difficult and potentially dangerous calling. In this booklet, author and former pastor Bill Crowder shares the wisdom of 1 Timothy 1:5 along with his own experiences. Gain a fresh perspective on your responsibility to God and your assignment to communicate the message of His awesome love.
Read more here.
Back to Finding Rest for the Soul