Paying Attention in Order to Avoid the Yoke

Kind of a powerful one-two combo this morning. Set up with a left jab in the New Testament and then taken out with a right hook from the Old. 2Corinthians 6:14 teaming up with Psalm 101 to remind me that walking in the way of integrity is not just about a momentary decision but about a lifelong determination.

First, the left jab . . .

Do not be yoked together with those who do not believe.

(2 Corinthians 6:14a CSB)

Pretty familiar verse for many of us. However, for many of us it was mostly a “how to date” verse. But in the context of Paul’s letter, it probably is better understood as a “how to live” verse. Be careful not only of who you’re yoked to, but also of what you’re yoked to. Be aware not only of partnering with unbelievers but also of walking in their unbelieving ways. Stay away from allowing your ways and your walk to be informed by those who are idolaters — those whose ways serve someone or something other than God and whose walk is directed by an allegiance and hope outside of God. Don’t do it, says Paul. Don’t become partners with those who do not believe.

But how do you do not do it?

At first, it might seem like a pretty simple, singular act of the will. See an unequal yoke, avoid the unequal yoke. Recognize where a partnership with an unbeliever is being considered and stop considering it. May not be easy, depending on the heart’s desire, but it would seem simple.

Okay. We’ve ducked the left jab, let’s move on . . .

Then comes the right hook . . .

I will pay attention to the way of integrity.
When will You come to me?
I will live with a heart of integrity in my house.

(Psalm 101:2 CSB)

David’s desire above all desires was to know the presence of God. And, though he doesn’t use the term, he knows that an unequal yoke would get in the way of that desire. For, as Paul would put it, “What agreement does the temple of God have with idols?” (2Cor. 6:16a). Thus, in order to be connected to the reality of God’s glory, David would pay attention to the way of personal integrity. Far from a one-and-done decision to not be partnered with the wrong partner, David’s song reveals an on-going diligence and determination to deal with anything that might entangle him with an unequal partner.

I will not let anything worthless guide me.
I hate the practice of transgression;
it will not cling to me.
A devious heart will be far from me;
I will not be involved with evil.

(Psalm 101:3-4 CSB)

Nothing worthless is going to guide me. Practicing transgression won’t cling to me. Involvement with evil will be foreign to me. Far from a one-and-done decision, David readied himself for a now-and-always determination.

Read on and David says he would destroy “secret slanderers”, that he wouldn’t tolerate those propelled by pride (v.5). In addition, he would bar those who acted deceitfully from working for him and wouldn’t hire those consumed by lies to counsel him (v.7).

David determined that every morning he would clean house. To remove all that was wicked and wipe out all that would promote evil (v.8).

Remaining unequally yoked would mean constantly paying attention to the way of integrity. It would mean regularly dealing with the encroaching ways of the world and the enticing allure of idolatry.

The righteous walk, it would seem, is more than just a left jab. In the power of the Spirit, it will mean daily going for the knock out punch with the right hook.

By God’s grace. For God’s glory.

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