Lamentations 3:27, “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.”
Most often when thinking about a yoke we think of it as a burden for the oxen wearing it. Often when I was a teen hearing preachers preach about yokes and crosses to carry, it seemed as though Jesus was putting a heavy load on the shoulders of those following him. It is amazing how assumptions are often wrong. I was assuming about the heaviness of what Jesus was asking. I was totally wrong. Jeremiah says, “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke…” If you think about it for a minute the yoke on the ox isn’t for punishment, it is for comfort in his work. The yoke is to make it easier and more efficient, not harder for the animal. As the settlers headed West 150 years ago, the wagons had to be pulled. The family didn’t call Benkins Transport or Atlas Moving Company with the instructions, ‘I’ll meet you in California in thirty days.’ The man along with his family, if he had one, hopped on a wagon with their supplies and the animals pulled them. These animals had yokes. What man in his right mind wanted his animal to be more burdened pulling the wagon he was riding on? If a single animal or the team died on the trail, most likely he, along with his wife and kids were going to die also.
Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your soul” (Matthew 11:29). When we take the Lord’s yoke it IS a burden. There is nothing easy about the Christian life. However, it isn’t an overwhelming burden. He never overloads us. The world, the flesh, and the devil may seek to load us down but not the Lord. He knows our frame. He knows what we can carry, never asking us to do more than we are capable of.
A person may remark, “I don’t have any burdens. I’m retired. I sleep in as long as I want, I eat when I want, I do what I want.” You may have the burden of time, too much time. What do I mean by this? Some of the most miserable people in life are those with nothing to do. They have no purpose. On many occasions, I’ve heard Pastor Richards say he believes that “in Heaven, in eternity, the Lord will have a job for us and after we complete that one, perhaps another.” I believe that also. I can’t think of anything more boring than to sit on a cloud plunking a harp all day and night. Heaven will not be boring; the Lord Jesus is there. It is a good thing to work, to carry the Lord’s burden. We all need responsibility. It makes us better Christian people. When I speak with young people and even middle-aged people with problems, one of the things I want to know is about their job situation. Lazy doesn’t cut it with God. I tell them this, “Two good things happen when you have a job. One, you are making money. Two, you aren’t spending money.” In the Lord’s work, the burden you are carrying is a good thing. God has given you a yoke to bear, do it joyfully. It’s a good thing.
Let me share one more thought. If you don’t learn to bear burdens early and take on responsibility, you probably won’t later. Habits are hard to break. If your whole life has been one of sloth, it’s doubtful you will change later. One of the major burdens we are all expected to carry is the financing of the Lord’s work. We are to learn to tithe and be generous givers. It is an amazing thing that God’s people can live better on 90% of their income than 100% of their income. It’s a God thing. Get under the burden sooner rather than later. Don’t fear working for the Lord. “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.”