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Will You Yield?
There is a yield sign at the entrance of my neighborhood, positioned just for those drivers making a right turn into the neighborhood. There is also a stoplight at this same intersection that regulates the flow of traffic on the main street. There is little ambiguity about a stoplight. Red means stop. Green means go. Yellow… well, yellow seems to be open for interpretation. But we all know yellow leads to red.
This yield sign, however, seems to be more ambiguous. The definition of yield is not unclear. It means to give way, to surrender, or to submit. When we yield seems to be the question.
Legally, a yield sign means to slow down slow down and possibly stop in order to see what the other cars are doing. The cars already in the intersection or on the road have the right-of-way. For cars coming into our neighborhood, the driver making that right turn should be looking for cars in the intersection preparing to make a left turn and should stop to allow them to do so. They have the right-of-way.
Unfortunately, most people ignore that yield sign. They make their turn, barely slowing down, and without a glance to see if there is a reason for them to yield. I confess. I do too. Sometimes I don’t even recall seeing the yield sign, let alone acknowledging that I should somehow act differently because of it.
I can’t help but marvel at how like that turn lane with the yield sign we can be. I think most of us live in the turn lane and, for those who profess to follow Christ, God’s Word is a ginormous yield sign that begs the question …
Will we yield to God?
If you attend church, you probably hear this concept taught more in terms of submitting than yielding. This is a daily, sometimes hourly, practice of assessing our thoughts, actions, words, habits, decisions, and attitudes through the filter of God’s Word to discern how we need to yield to his instructions. This is the place where we might discover that we don’t have the right-of-way, where we need to consider how our responses might impact others, and we may even encounter a direct command to stop.
But I wonder. How often do we simply blow right through it without even slowing down to assess the damage that could occur by our failure to yield?
Submission is not a popular idea. As my pastor often says, we like our stuff, how we like it, and when we like it. This attitude doesn’t pair well with submission does it? Submitting means we don’t get our way first. We may think of submission as being beaten down, a door mat, mousy, lacking, or weak. True submission for a Christian is anything but. It’s active, purposeful, and powerful.
“The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God, it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” (Romans 8:7 NIV)
Yielding at the intersection does not happen by accident. A driver has to be aware of his or her surroundings, acknowledge the call to yield, and prepare to slow down or even stop.
Submitting our lives to Christ does not come naturally or happen by accident either. It takes purposeful preparation.Submitting our lives to Christ takes purposeful planning. Click To Tweet
Our natural inclination is to be governed by what Paul refers to as our “flesh”; the person we were before receiving salvation through Jesus Christ. Our old self is hostile to God, and does not desire to yield to his life-giving Word. Our old self will react to situations in anger, pride, greed, and selfishness, to name a few.
Our natural inclination is not to hold our tongues, to turn the other cheek, or to speak only what builds others up. No sir. However, God’s Word is clear that this is exactly how we should respond. Bending our natural inclinations to yield to the Word of God takes planning and preparation through the study of God’s Word. Study is what transforms our minds, informs our decisions, and aligns us with God.
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 NIV)
As I prepared this article I heard the news report of a fatal wreck caused by a driver who failed to yield the right-of-way. Two young people lost their lives. Death is an extreme, but very real consequence of our failure to yield.
We have an adversary who wants us to fail. He delights in wrecked relationships, burdens of guilt and shame, crushing debt brought on by selfish indulgence, splintered friendships, and wounded hearts. We may not be physically dead, but everything that matters is.
Yet, James tells us that active yielding to God causes our adversary to flee.Yielding to God causes our adversary to flee and brings us freedom. Click To Tweet
Holding our tongue protects the hearts of our loved ones from words spoken in anger. Bending our desire to splurge on the latest and greatest gadget to conform with God’s Word regarding money ensures we are not enslaved by our jobs and our stuff. Surrendering our habits of indulgence to align with God’s Word on purity and health releases us from shame, guilt, and self-condemnation.
When we live protected, conformed, freed, and released, our enemy has no power over us in those areas. He cannot stand against a life yielded to God. It is only where we do not yield that he gains a foothold.
“These instructions are not empty words – they are your life!” (Deut 32:47a NLT)
That God’s Word brings life was true for Moses and the Israelites and it’s true for us today. We won’t always get it right. Sometimes we’ll run right through that yield sign of God’s Word and there will be wreckage we have to deal with. When this happens, go back to the Word of God and let him have the final word. Yield, my friend, and you will find life.