When I was in school studying music therapy, I had to take some classes about child development. During those classes, it was stressed that discipline was more effective if it was gentle and not harsh; a child would respond better to praise and specific instruction rather than yelling. There are a lot of studies that show that when a child is given specific instructions worded in appositive manner, they will respond more positively. For example, according to research a child will more likely respond positively to a calm instruction such as, “Please walk,” which tells the child what they should do rather than yelling, “Don’t run!” For the most part, I would agree that giving instructions in a positive manner is effective; however, there are times when a child is in danger (such as running in a street) and yelling, “Stop!” is necessary. While He was here on earth, Jesus modeled a gentle manner of teaching and guiding that we could learn from. Please turn to Matthew 11:28-30.
A yoke is an instrument that is used with oxen, which are known to be strong a bit stubborn. It is a wooden plank that is shaped to fit over the shoulders of an ox and brings two oxen together. The oxen then are forced to work together and follow the will of the driver. When we take up Jesus’ yoke, we are bound to Him and His instruction and follow His lead. Jesus promises that when we take up His yoke, His lead is gentle. There are times in the gospels when Jesus doesn’t appear very gentle, specifically when He is talking with the religious leaders. Then we can see other times when Jesus’ style is very gentle and patient. As I thought about the difference, it is kind of like the child development class. When Jesus is giving instruction, it is like He is telling us what we should do and to follow Him; He is very gentle in His manner. If we take up His yoke, we are willingly following His gentle lead. At the times when He seemed to be yelling or harsh with the religious leaders, it is almost like the parent who yells, “Stop!” when they see their child heading into danger. God would much rather we follow His gentle lead.
I know in my life, as I am in the Word and spending time listening to God, He is very gentle with me when He is letting me know that I need to change something. He doesn’t guide us with shame or guilt; He guides us with a patient hand. His yoke truly is easy! When Jesus was talking about His yoke, He was talking to a people who were living in a legalistic society; their walk with God was burdened with heavy laws and regulations. Jesus was letting us know that it didn’t have to be that way. When we take up His yoke, we are not burdened with what we shouldn’t do; rather, He guides us in what we should do. Jesus’ lead is gentle and not harsh.
Have you been following Jesus’ gentle lead?