As the young ox has to be brought under the yoke, and as the young horse has to be accustomed to the bridle and bit, so the young person must learn the practical and valuable lessons of submission and endurance. Lamentations 3:27 says, “It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.” In life, the “yoke” is to be imposed for the good of man. It is good for young people to learn to bear this yoke in youth. One of the consistent problems of younger generations is that parents have not imposed the yoke on their children. Let us study some of the “yokes” that young people need to learn to bear.
The Yoke of Subjection to Authority
One who doesn’t learn this lesson early in life will suffer for it in the time to come. Young people need to learn to obey their parents because it is a sin not to (Romans 1:30; Ephesians 6:1-2). They need to learn to obey the laws of the land (Romans 13:1-7). And they certainly need to learn to obey the laws of God (Ecclesiastes 12:1). The young man or woman who does not learn to bear the yoke of subjection to authority will find their life filled with unhappiness. They will have an unhappy home life. Many women cannot bring themselves to submit to their husbands (1 Peter 3:1) because they never learned to submit to their fathers when they were at home. They were rebellious, and this brings great unhappiness and many times, the breaking up of homes. They will also have an unhappy spiritual life. Many can’t deny themselves and bring themselves into submission to God’s law because they never learned submission to anyone in their youth.
The Yoke of Self-Denial or Self-Restraint
Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Paul said that we are to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts in Titus 2:12. Youth needs to learn self-control. Young people need to control their sexual desires. This is done by not petting, not dancing, not dressing immodestly, and by not listening to music or watching media that glamorizes fornication. Young people, keep your body in subjection because fornication will destroy your ability to form a happy marriage. Your body and mind need the security of belonging to another in order for the sexual expression of love to have its full meaning and beauty (Hebrews 13:4). Learn to control your desire for material things. Jesus said, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). People who live their lives for possessions have a very empty life because the acquiring of possessions can’t satisfy the longings of the soul. Learn also to control your temper and your thoughts (Proverbs 4:23). Think on good, pure things (Philippians 4:8).
The Yoke of Difficulty and Toil
It is good for us to have to work for our bread (2 Thessalonians 3:10). God intended us for labor, not for indolence. Before the fall of man, God assigned physical work for him to do (Genesis 2:15). God did not place man in a “sleeping hollow” to fatten in idleness, but in a garden to dress and keep it. Young people need to learn to work while they are young. If they do not, they will never be good workers. A young person who will work will always have a job.
The Yoke of Godly Living
Youth is to “flee … youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22). The young are to follow righteousness, faith love, peace, and have a pure heart. They are to be an example (1 Timothy 4:12). You don’t have to dance, smoke/vape, drink, dress immodestly, or commit fornication just because you are young. Your youth is the time to start abstaining from all forms of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22) and to strive to live “soberly, righteously, and godly …” (Titus 2:12).
The Yoke of Personal Suffering and Affliction
Many of the most noble characters have known trouble in early life. There is a need in those who have never suffered. In the affliction of youth one learns the limitations of his own power and his need for God. By the endurance of suffering and affliction, patience is worked in one’s life (Romans 5:3-4; James 1:2-5).
The Yoke of Service to the Lord
Paul said “… always abounding in the work of the Lord …” (1 Corinthians 15:58). This passage applies to the young as well as to the old. Young people need to be engaged in real labor for the Lord. They need to learn early in life to put the kingdom first (Matthew 6:33). You need to learn in your youth to put the Lord and His church before your own pleasure (2 Timothy 3:4). You need to be striving to convert souls to the Lord.
It is the responsibility of parents to “put the yoke” on their children (Ephesians 6:4). Parents insist on conformity to good rules in the home. They see that they bear the “yoke” of attending Bible study, being in worship, and attending gospel meetings. Children who do not learn to bear the yoke in their youth bring sorrow and shame to their lives in their maturing years. Yes, “It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.”