Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

July 22, 1897

“Take My Yoke Upon You”

“Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”

There is a condition to the rest and peace here offered us by Christ. It is that of yoking up with him. All who will accept the condition will find that the yoke of Christ will help them to bear every burden needful for them to carry. Without Christ at our side to bear the heaviest part of the load, we must indeed say that it is heavy. But yoked with him to the car of duty, the burdens of life may all be lightly carried. And just as a man acts in willing obedience to the requirements of God, will come his peace of mind. He will give evidence of clear judgment and a steadfastness of character in cooperating with God to redeem himself through faith in Christ.

Submission of Faith in Christ

Meekness and humility will characterize all who are obedient to the law of God, all who will wear the yoke of Christ with submission. And these graces will bring the desirable result of peace in the service of Christ. In learning Christ's meekness and lowliness, we shall submit the entire being to his control. Then the transforming grace of Christ will work upon heart and character, making human beings, fallen in sin, complete in him.

Christ would teach this lesson to all who will follow him. As our Substitute and Surety, standing at the head of humanity, he is our example. He was obedient to all the requirements of God. He, the Majesty of heaven, the King of glory, laid aside his royalty, his position as Commander in the heavenly courts, came to our world as a man, and became subject to the law. And all this that man might become like his Master, obedient, not to the enemy of God, but obedient to his Father in heaven, that he might engage in the service that God requires of each of his obedient children.

This constitutes the condition of salvation. And God enjoins this condition upon every human being just as verily as he enjoined it upon Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Our first parents fell because, when tempted by Satan, they disobeyed God. With few exceptions the human family has since been in service to Satan, doing his work, wearing his yoke, and bearing his burdens. But they have found his yoke uncomfortable and galling, his burdens heavy and grievous to be borne.

But Christ pledged his own life in order that the transgressor might be spared, that man might have another trial. He would himself stand in man's place; he would clothe himself in the garb of humanity, and live the life of man from the very beginning. He would pass through the stages of infancy, childhood, youth, and manhood, that he might show man how to live, how to employ his hours of probation.

Obedience of Faith in Christ

Christ acknowledged himself subject to the law. If this were not so, he could not be our Saviour. And God designs that man shall live up to every specification of the law, that he may reveal a character after the pattern given him by Christ. He desires that while in the world, his followers shall not be of the world. Their experience may find expression in the words, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

In his Son, God has placed before man the life he is to live. It is not for him to be constantly branching out in lines of his own choosing, and placing his will in opposition to the will of God. Yet many are expending their powers in hopeless pursuit of things they can never attain. How different are the lives of such when compared with that of their Example, the Son of God, who for their sake pledged himself to a life of self-denial, of poverty, and of suffering, unappreciated, unacknowledged, despised, and rejected! He was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.... He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.... He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” Christ was often weary and hungry and filled with sorrow in the consciousness of unrequited love. The nation whom he came to save and bless did not realize his mission. They had departed from God, and were constantly misunderstanding and misinterpreting him. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”

Willing Obedience in Christ

In view of the abundant evidence God has given of his love, his sympathy, and his benevolence, he requires our willing obedience. His love will prove a safeguard to every soul. It will bar the path to sin and selfish indulgence. In looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, in studying his life of self-denial and self-sacrifice, we are armed with the same mind to do the same service. “Whosoever will come after me,” says Christ, “let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” To the true follower of Christ there is a pleasure in doing the things that Christ has done in his behalf. He does not regard the Lord's requirement as an arbitrary exaction, but a clear specification of his only safety from the advances of the wily foe, who is ever seeking to entangle his feet and make his path difficult.

God knows that if we were left to follow our own inclinations, to go just where our will would lead us, we should fall into Satan's ranks and become possessors of his attributes. Therefore the law of God confines us to his will, which is high and noble and elevating. He desires that we shall patiently and wisely take up the duties of service. It is for our present and eternal good to work the works of God. If his will is cheerfully and gratefully accepted, the results will be seen in the service rendered and in the character developed.

Result of Sullen Submission

A sullen submission to the will of the Father will develop the character of a rebel. By such a one service is looked upon as drudgery. It is not rendered cheerfully, and in the love of God. It is a mere mechanical performance. If he dared, such a one would disobey. His rebellion is smothered, ready to break out at any time in bitter murmurings and complaints. Such service brings no peace or quietude to the soul.

Christ assumed humanity, with all its humiliation and service, that he might set men free from the bondage of Satan. He knew that the service of Satan can bring only wretchedness and misery in its train. The sinner is a stranger to repose. He says, “I want my freedom.” He hopes to get rid of all restraint by casting aside the law of God. But it is this desire that has made the world what it is today, corrupt as in the days of Noah, and polluted as the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Law and service are a part of every true life. Idleness is sin. Money is supposed to carry its possessor above service. Because a man has money, he is allowed to spend his time in idleness. But Satan engages all such in the meanest kind of work. It is the Lord who has a right to our service. The more an individual lives to himself, and the less for the good of others, the less noble and pure will be his life. His moral power degenerates while he is living for himself. Compare the idle life with that of one who looks his responsibilities in the face, and takes up his life service for God and for his fellow-men.

The Work of Faith with Christ

All who have a sense of their duty to their fellow-men will accept the invitation to work in co-partnership with Jesus Christ, by a life of obedience and service. In this way alone can they give the divine credentials to the world. These will entertain a high conception of life. It is not to them a round of worldly pleasure and amusement. This can never satisfy the hungry soul. The truth is noble, elevating, and sacred, and the wisdom and knowledge given us in it are as a tree of life to all who will accept them.

In the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah God has placed before us the work he would have us do for him and for our fellow-men. He says: “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily; and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; and if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday; and the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones; and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.”

Then why not try this kind of service? The Lord calls his yoke easy, and his burden light. Yet that yoke will not give us a life of ease and freedom and selfish indulgence. The life of Christ was one of self-sacrifice and self-denial at every step; and with consistent, Christlike tenderness and love, his true follower will walk in the footsteps of the Master; and as he advances in this life, he will become more and more inspired with the Spirit and life of Christ.

Mrs. E. G. White

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