“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1 ESV)
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)
“The greatest burden we have to carry in life is self. The most difficult thing we have to manage is self… In laying off your burdens, therefore, the first one you must get rid of is yourself. You must hand yourself…into the care and keeping of your God… He made you and therefore He understands you, and knows how to manage you, and you must trust Him to do it.” 1 –Hannah Whitall Smith
It’s a great way to beat your soul black and blue, trying to fulfill the lie that freedom is dependent on your behavior. This simple deception with all its striving wears us out. Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Jesus’ illustration is that of a young ox harnessed with the same yoke as a mature ox. The inexperienced animal did not carry the weight of the yoke. Instead, it simply learned to walk alongside the leader who carried the entire weight of the yoke on its shoulders. The only responsibility of the weaker animal was to submit and follow.
When you trust Christ as your Savior, He removes the crushing yoke of slavery and offers His yoke of Lordship. The bottom line is you are either a slave to sin or to the Lord Jesus Christ. Being yoked to sin produces death (Romans 6:21): destructive patterns, perfectionism, shame and guilt, self-sufficiency, legalism, fear, pride… The list of oppression is endless. But, when you place your faith in Jesus Christ, He then binds Himself to you. He carries your burden of guilt, setting you free from condemnation and sin’s power. The effect of being bound to Christ is ever increasing freedom for your soul. “But now, since you have been liberated from sin and have become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification–and the end is eternal life!” (Romans 6:22 HCSB)
If Christ is the authority over your life, His continual call is to learn from Him and enter into rest for your soul. Ultimately, your freedom is yoked to your dependence on the Lord Jesus Christ, and His invitation is always the same, “Come to me.” (Matthew 11:28)
In order to submit to Jesus’ yoke, He said to “learn from me.” (Matthew 11:29) It is possible to be saved without being a disciple of Christ. Do I rely more on an individual or the authority of the Word of God to grow in Christ? How can I invest in my growth by reading/listening to the Bible today?
Reflect on where you are in the process of experiencing God’s freedom. Write down what burdens you the most at this point in your life. Talk to the Lord about it. Ask for His empowerment to walk with Him in freedom.
Heavenly Father, thank You that You have set me free through faith in Jesus Christ. Lord, I desire to live in the full extent of freedom purchased for me. Help me to wear Your yoke and learn from You. Empower me to stand firm against what would enslave me. Lead me to rest in Your authority. In the liberating name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen
1. Hannah Whitall Smith, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life (Westwood, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, n.d.), page 38.