December 18, 2021
Scripture: Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14 ESV
Observation: Paul, having reminded the Corinthians that they are ambassadors of Christ and that he and his team have done nothing to restrict their liberties, cautions them to not succumb to their affections which will eventually curtail their freedom in Christ (5:11-6:13). Specifically, contrasting light to darkness, Paul warns church members not to rush into ill-advised relations with unbelievers (above verse). Why? Because their bodies (physical, emotional, spiritual) are temples of the living God (6:16).
Takeaway: What constitutes a yoked relationship with unbelievers? Paul does not mean we are to avoid building relationships with the lost (1 Corinthians 5:9-10). Christ himself set the example when he attended a party at Matthews’s house with those who had strayed from the faith (Matthew 9:10-13). The principle applied here is borrowed from animal husbandry. The farmer would fix two oxen side by side with a wooden clamp that doubled pulling power, but more importantly, ensured these beasts of burden would move in the same direction. Jesus used this analogy in the positive sense to illustrate that his followers were to come alongside him and learn from him, and resultantly lighten their burdens and find rest for their souls (Matthew 11:29-30). Paul uses the same metaphor in the negative sense. When we become intimately involved with others who are not followers of Christ, they will lead us away from our Lord, “restricting our liberties” in him and burdening our souls with heartache.
As a young man just out of college, I yearned for a soul mate who would come alongside me and share life with me. Unfortunately, I lacked the spiritual maturity (patience and discernment) to know whether I was pursuing relations with a true believer. I even ignored my pastor’s warning that I was rushing into an unequally yoked relationship. He refused to officiate our wedding. After nearly ten years of heartache, my first wife divorced me. The second time around, having learned a costly lesson, I (as well as Ruth) sought the counsel of the community of believers and our families before pursuing marriage. Twenty-eight years later, we are best friends and enjoying our spiritual journey together. Have we had struggles? Of course. Have we ever considered divorce? Never, because we are yoked to Christ.
Prayer: We thank you, Father, for your Son who invites us to yoke ourselves and our loved ones to him. That together as one, we might move in the same direction. Would you please help us listen to your Holy Spirit and the community of believers when we pursue relations with unbelievers that go beyond friendship and become entangled in emotional intimacy? Thank you. Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling