Wednesday, April 17, 2013

YOKE: You're O. K. with Enough

“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)

This is an offer from Jesus. Is this a promise that if we declare ourselves Christian our lives will be ones of ease and prosperity?

What is a yoke anyway? It's an old word, "yugom", from Proto-Indo-European times approximately 3700 BC. It's a single ancient language out of which many modern languages are believed to have developed. It has always meant "joined, united" and we get the word subjugated from it.

So we have been asked to do what? We are asked to submit ourselves to the control of God, for Jesus is God. Are we yoked to Jesus? I don't quite read it that way. If we take someone's yoke, we are being subordinate to him, not equal. We would be yoked for a purpose and we would be taught and guided in our purpose by he who yoked us.

And if we are yoked then we are united to some purpose. We Christians become yoked together and so have a common and shared job to till the soil,  to plant the seed, to plow the Lord's garden for His saving of souls.

Again, does this promise us an earthly life of ease and prosperity? It promises rest for our souls, not necessarily for our body. It certainly doesn't promise us prosperity. We are yoked to work for God's purpose, not our own.

I would say this, since I accepted Christ's yoke I have been care free, but not trouble free. There is a difference.

I certainly did not become moneyed. Why should I? To whom did Jesus promise a large bank account?

Wait, though, if I ask won't God give it? 

 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:7-11 ESV)

So all I have to do is ask God to make me prosper and He will gift me with wealth.


You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (James 4:3 ESV)

Let's look at "Ask, and it will be given" as it appears in Luke for some clarification.

And he [Jesus] said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent;  or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:5-13 ESV)

What is it we should be seeking and asking for when we knock on the door? If we seek and ask for salvation the door will be opened and what good thing will God give us, but the Holy Spirit.

In the TV series, "The Bible", there is a presentation of the feeding of the five thousand. A disciple lifts an empty basket over his head and says, "He said, "Ask,", then lowers the basket now full of fish and bread, and says, "And you shall receive." The scene seemed to imply that if you asked for anything you would be awarded with an overabundance of "things". 

Who says God will give you an overabundance of things or wealth? I hear prosperity preaching to the effect that this promises that very thing:

Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.     (Malachi 3:10 ESV)

This comes in the middle of God scolding Judah from turning aside from God and from not making full tithe as commanded. It comes in warnings of judgment. That fact does not mean that the statement is not true, that if we tithe and give that god will not open the windows of Heaven, but does this means He will make you rich? He says he will pour down blessing until there is no more need.

I have experienced this, frankly. I have given when it has been difficult. I have at times given my last dollar. Then came times when a bill was due and we had no funds to pay. Suddenly, unexpectedly, money enough to meet our debt came. It would be a source we were unaware of, sort of like a chance card in Monopoly. "Bank error in your favor. Collect $10." It was never an amount that would make us independent, only enough that there was no more immediate need. With this we should find contentment. To pursue more beyond this is dangerous.

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Timothy 6:3-10 ESV)

Most times I see we Christians told to sacrifice for others without expectation of repayment, but with God's assurance that we add to our treasure in Heaven.

"He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:12-14)

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (I Timothy 6:17-19)

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’  And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’  But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’  So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,[d] yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Luke 2:15-34 ESV)
God's grace is sufficient.  If you are yoked by Christ, you will be okay with just enough. This is why I say, I am care free even though I am not trouble free. It is I know God will see me through what troubles may come and so I don't have to worry. 

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