YIELD, TRUST, OBEY.
IN considering the subject of every-day religion there are three things always absolutely necessary in the attitude of the soul toward the Lord. Other things may be there or may not be there, but these three must. No peace, no victory, no communion are possible where these are absent; and no difficulty is insurmountable where they are present. I often feel like giving out, as a sort of universal common-sense recipe for the cure of all spiritual diseases and difficulties, the three simple words that form the subject of this lesson, Yield, Trust, Obey.
I. -- YIELD.
"Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the Lord, and enter into His sanctuary, which He hath sanctified for ever: and serve the Lord your God, that the fierceness of His wrath may turn away from you" (2 Chron. 30:8).
"Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God" (Rom. 6:13).
To yield anything means simply to make over that thing to the care and keeping of another. To yield ourselves to the Lord, therefore, is to make ourselves over to Him, giving Him the entire possession and control of our whole being. It means to abandon ourselves; to take hands off of ourselves. The word consecration is often used to express this yielding, but I hardly think it is a good substitute. With many people to consecrate themselves seems to convey the idea of doing something very self-sacrificing, and very good and grand; and it therefore admits of a subtle form of self-glorification. But "yielding" conveys a far more humbling idea; it implies helplessness and weakness, and the glorification of another rather than of ourselves.
To illustrate the difference between the two ideas, let us notice the difference between consecrating one's powers or one's money to some great work, and the yielding of one's self in illness to the care of a skilful physician. In the one case we confer a favour, in the other we receive a favour. In the one case, self can glory; in the other, self is abased. If I were lost in a wild and lonely forest, and a skilful guide should come to my rescue, I could not be said to consecrate myself to that guide, but I would be said to yield myself to his care and guidance. To consecrate is an Old Testament idea, and belongs to the old covenant of works; to yield is a New Testament idea, and belongs to the new covenant of grace. The word, to consecrate, is used forty times in the Old Testament, and only twice in the New, and both of these times it refers to Christ. (See Heb. 7:28; 10:20.) The New Testament idea of yielding or surrender is set forth as follows: --
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Rom. 12:1).
We are to "present" ourselves, to hand ourselves over; to do with ourselves what we do with the money we entrust to the bank, make ourselves over to the care and keeping and use of God. It is not the idea of sacrifice, in the sense we usually give to that word, namely, as of a great cross taken up; but it is the sense of surrender, of abandonment, of giving up the control and keeping and use of ourselves unto the Lord. And this is our "reasonable service," or, as I would express it, our common-sense service. It certainly is the most profound common-sense, if we are ill, to put our case into the hands of a skilful physician, or, if we are lost, to put our guidance into the hands of a safe guide; and to put our poor, weak, foolish, helpless selves into the care and keeping of the God who made us, and who loves us, and who alone can care for us, is certainly the most profound common-sense of all. To yield to God means to belong to God, and to belong to God means to have all His infinite power and infinite love engaged on our side. A man is bound to take care of anything that belongs to him; and so also, I would say it most reverently, is God. Therefore, when I invite you to yield yourselves to Him, I am inviting you to avail yourselves of an inexpressible and most amazing privilege.
"I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness" (Rom. 6:19).
"Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent His angel, and delivered His servants that trusted in Him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God" (Dan. 3:28).
God always delivers those who, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, regardless of circumstances or of seemings, yield themselves up into His keeping. Therefore, to yield is our first step.
II. -- TRUST.
"Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass. And He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.... And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them: He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in Him" (Ps. 37:5, 6, 40).
"Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit" (Jer. 17:7, 8).
I might multiply passages concerning trust indefinitely, for the Bible is simply full of them. The word believe is often used instead of the word trust, but the idea is the same. In the New Testament, especially, the word believe is the one generally used; but this does not mean believing in doctrines or believing in history, but, rather, believing in a Person, or, in other words, trusting that Person. Christ always said, "Believe in me," not, "Believe this or that about me," but "Believe in me, in me as a Saviour who can save." You cannot very well trust in "doctrines" or "plans," no matter how much you may believe in them, but you can always trust in the Lord, whether or not you understand His plans or the doctrines concerning Him.
Trusting can hardly be said to be distinct from yielding. It is, in fact, the absolutely necessary correlation to it. It would be impossible for us really to yield ourselves up to the care of a physician or to the guidance of a guide, if we did not trust that physician or that guide; and on the other hand it would be equally impossible for us to trust where we did not yield. Trusting, therefore, simply means that when we have yielded ourselves up unto the Lord, or, in other words, have made ourselves over to Him, we then have perfect confidence that He will manage us and everything concerning us exactly right, and we consequently leave the whole care and managing in His hands. There is nothing but common-sense in this. It is what we do a hundred times a day with our fellow-men. We are continually yielding ourselves or our affairs to the care and management of some one else, and feel the utmost unconcern in so doing. We never step into a railway carriage, or aboard a steamer, that we do not take the steps of yielding and trusting. And if we find it an easy and natural thing to do this toward man, how much more easy it must be to do it toward God. Trusting, therefore, is the second step.
III. -- OBEY.
"Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, His servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness" (Rom. 6:16).
"But if thou shalt indeed obey His voice, and do all that I speak: then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off" (Exod. 23:22, 23).
Obedience is the logical outcome of yielding and trusting. If I yield myself up into the care of a physician, and trust him to cure me, I must necessarily obey his orders. If I am lost in a wilderness, and surrender myself to the care of a guide, I must walk in the paths he points out. No physician, however skilful, can possibly cure a patient who will not obey his orders; and no guide can lead a lost traveller home, if that traveller refuses to follow his guidance, and persists in walking in paths he forbids. Common-sense ought to teach us this. If we want the Lord to care for us, and protect us from our enemies, and provide for our needs, it stands to reason that we must obey His voice, and walk in the paths He marks out for us.
"Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies and turned my hand against their adversaries. The haters of the Lord should have submitted themselves unto Him; but their time should have endured for ever. He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat; and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee" (Ps. 81:13-16).
Whatever difficulty we are in, therefore, we must take these three steps. First, we must yield it absolutely to the Lord; secondly, we must trust Him without anxiety to manage it; and thirdly, we must simply and quietly obey His will in regard to it. A parallel case would be, if one should put a difficult matter into the hands of a lawyer, and should be required by that lawyer to do certain things or to follow certain courses in order to insure the success of the case. Obviously the only common-sense course would be to follow the advice and comply with the suggestions so given, as completely and minutely as possible. To refuse to do so would be to make it impossible for the most skilful lawyer to carry the case to a successful issue. It is of no use, therefore, for us to think of yielding ourselves or any of our affairs to the Lord, and trusting Him to care for us and keep us, unless we make up our minds also to obey Him.
"But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you" (Jer. 7:23).
"Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; a blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day; and a curse if you will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known" (Deut. 11:26-28; see also Deut. 28:1-14; Jer. 38:19, 20).
Obedience, therefore, may be said to be simply a matter of self-interest. It is not a demand made of us, but a privilege offered. Like yielding and trusting, it is simply a way of bringing Divine wisdom and power to bear upon our affairs. And if we could only learn to look upon it in this common-sense kind of way, we should find that it had lost half of its terrors. We should be able to say then with our Divine Master, "I delight to do Thy will," and not merely I consent to do it.
A great many people consent to obey God because they are afraid of the consequences of disobedience, but they find no "delight" in it. If, however, they would only look for a little while on the other side, and see something of the unspeakably blessed consequences of obedience, they would find themselves delighting in obedience, and even embracing it eagerly, and rejoicing in the privilege of it.
"Now, therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine; And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests; and an holy nation" (Exod. 19:5, 6).
To be "God's peculiar treasure" is surely something to make us delight in obeying His will!
We have now considered the three elements of the little practical, common-sense cure-all, which is the subject of our lesson -- Yield, Trust, Obey. It remains for us to learn how to apply the remedy to the disease. All physicians will tell us that a remedy, to be effectual, must be actually and faithfully taken as long as the need continues. In order, therefore, to make this cure-all effectual, we must actually and faithfully take it. That is, we must actually and definitely yield ourselves and all our interests, week-day interests as well as Sunday ones, to God in a continual surrender. We must take our hands off of ourselves, and off of our affairs of every kind, and then we must leave them all in perfect trust to the Lord to manage; and finally we must simply, day by day, and hour by hour, obey His will as far as we know it. This is to be done about everything, literally everything. We are to keep nothing back. But who could want to keep anything in his own care, when he has the privilege of putting it into God's care?
"Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6, 7).
This is an infallible recipe. No human being ever acted on it, that peace did not come. No matter how great the trial, no matter how dark the perplexity, no matter even how grievous the sin, if that trial or that perplexity, or that sin, is only yielded up fully to the Lord's management, and He is perfectly trusted to manage it aright, and if the one thus yielding it, quietly and simply obeys God's will in regard to it, as fast as He makes it known, then, just as sure as God is God, will peace and victory come. I except nothing, literally nothing. The Apostle says, "Be careful (i.e., anxious) for nothing." This covers the whole ground: sins, sorrows, perplexities, anxieties, friends, children, property, health, business, Christian work, social life, household cares, plans in life, the past, the future, heights, depths, and "any other creature," all are included, and all must be committed to the care of God. And then, about all, when they are thus committed, the peace of God that passes all understanding will most assuredly come.
Try it, dear readers. About the next thing that troubles you take the three steps I have pointed out. Yield it entirely to the Lord, trust Him about it perfectly, and obey Him implicitly; and persist in this unwaveringly; and then see if, sooner or later, peace and deliverance do not surely come. I have never known it to fail. The deliverance may not always come in your own way, but it will surely come in God's way; and God's way is always the best way, and is the way we ourselves would choose, if we knew all that He knows.
"Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved" (Ps. 55:22).
"Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you" (1 Pet. 5:7).
Write out the receipt for this universal panacea, and keep it in your pocket-book, and in every moment of need make an application of it. It contains but three words: --
YIELD, TRUST, OBEY.
Table of Contents Chapter 5 Home The Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith