“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”
2 Corinthians 6:14 NKJV
Has this scripture at times not haunted the life of many a young Christian? Can’t you remember seeing that fine young brother or sister, that fly person and thinking to yourself, “I’m ready to do this!” only to hear the voice of some elder or another mention, “You be careful cause the Scripture tells you that….blah, blah, blah.”. All you wanted to do was date someone, or hang out….maybe catch feelings and get into trouble, and here they go spouting scripture. As much as I jest, the Bible uses the term yoke often and it has important implications for our spiritual walk.
I have learned in life that it’s important to be careful who you get yoked up with. In fact during the early 2000s as I walked the halls of Old Bridge High school and spoke the common jargon of the decade, you would often here the term, “bout to yoke this cat up!” or “don’t get yoked up”. The Miriam-Webster dictionary defines yoke as:
b : an arched device formerly laid on the neck of a defeated person
c : a frame fitted to a person’s shoulders to carry a load in two equal portions.
A yoke as it is defined in the dictionary can link two persons together making a shared load lighter to pull. It could also be placed upon a defeated, often broken person to increase their shame or highlight their loss. In fact the term yoke is found in the Bible many times fitting one of the two previous definitions.
In Deuteronomy 28:48 the Lord speaks to the freed children of Israel and describes the results of disobedience.
“You will serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you. You will be left hungry, thirsty, naked, and lacking in everything. The Lord will put an iron yoke on your neck, oppressing you harshly until he has destroyed you.”
Here yoke is defined as a tool of oppression. In Isaiah 10:27 The prophet foretells of the coming Messiah illustrating how He will, “break the yoke of slavery and lift it from their shoulders.” Again referenced as a tool for defeated persons, Christ himself used the term yoke when He said, “Come to Me, all you 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 NKJV).
When entering into a relationship every person should understand that he or she is about to willingly place a yoke upon their neck. This shared yoke will be used to pull both individuals’ past experiences and as years develop between them in their relationship, be used to pull new experiences and trials. So when you enter into a relationship, if you are unequally yoked for example, one person will be pulling more of the load then the other.
Let’s also consider that the word says a heavy yoke will be placed upon the neck of those who are disobedient. Ever wonder why that relationship was wearisome? Think to yourself that if this relationship is taking more from me than I can muster the energy to give, then consider for example the abstract yet highly plausible possibility that you have strayed from one of Christ’s guidelines. When we choose of ourselves to do our own thing we leave ourselves open to the oppressive burden and yoke designed for those who walk the path of disobedience.
But there’s good news. If we in our own spiritual walk choose to walk with Christ, laying our burdens at His feet, and taking his yoke upon us, He promises that our burden will be light and our yoke easy. He says that He will teach us essentially how to manage the load with a humble heart so that we will always find rest. In the right relationship where both individuals are walking with Christ sharing His yoke, when they join together IN CHRIST they will discover they are both equipped to bear each other’s burdens because Christ is in the midst of it all.
Essentially I want to encourage us to be careful who we get yoked up with. Is it really worth the stress and strain? Let us first above all else learn to walk with Christ bearing his yoke and then join together with someone else, bearing Christ’s yoke together.
Love and God Bless,
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