“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew?11:28–30

Life lessons that stick are generally the ones we have learned from “the school of hard knocks.” Some have said that “experience is the best teacher.” For many people that is true but, because experience is the cruelest teacher, the hope is that life lessons shared by those who are a little further down the road than we are will take root in our thinking so that we do not have to have experience impress upon us the hard lessons of life.

Here are a few life lessons worth learning by precept rather than by falling over the precipice. I imagine you have heard these gems. “Your health is your greatest asset.” “Learn to accept compliments graciously.” “Stop comparing yourself to others.” “You can’t please everyone.” “Regret has a bigger price tag than fear.” “Spending is easier than saving,” and “What you earn is not what you spend, it is what you save.”

I wonder what the story was behind “Few friends are forever.” This is good: “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” This is better: “Never a lender be.” You wonder what story lies behind that discovery. Here is advice from someone who may suspect he married poorly: “Wait for the right one.” There has to be a story behind this life lesson: “You are responsible.” Here is hard won wisdom: “It really does take 10,000 hours of hard work to become an expert.” I like this one: “Running from a problem is a lot like running in place.” Another good one is “Forgive quickly.” It is a bit like “Don’t be the one who burns bridges with others.” One more: “The pursuit of happiness is empty until you have discovered both meaning and gratitude.”

Experience really is a cruel teacher, but a forceful one, since “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.” Psalm?119:71f reads, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes. The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver.” Lessons for life are found throughout the Bible and the wise man will apply himself to learning. Proverbs?1:5 states, “A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.” Solomon also says, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.”

This is why God gave us His Word, gave us the Savior, and gave us brothers in Christ. God gave us His word specifically to help us avoid hard lessons in life. Deuteronomy?31:11ff says, “You shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women and little ones?…?that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the LORD your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land.” Romans?15:4 declares, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

Along with the Bible as our rule for faith and practice, God also gave us the Savior. The imagery He uses in our text of being yoked with Him is fascinating. First and foremost is recognized that anyone belonging in a yoke with Him must take Him as Lord and Savior. That is the whole point of His call for people to come to Him, coming to Him in faith and trusting Him. You must be made a son of God in order to be in the yoke with the Son of God! The cruelest life lesson for an unbeliever who dies in unbelief is yet to come, for the price of his unbelief is eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire.

Another lesson of the text is that the work of life goes much more conveniently when there are two well-matched laborers in the harness. Our Savior calls out to all who labor and are heavy laden and the rest He offers is a rest in partnership with Him. Certainly, He being God and doing the real work, His yoke is easy. Without Him all your life will be labor that wears you down and out. With Him the work you do here on earth will have divine purpose and you will walk in His steps.

His words also carry a guarantee based on His nature. He is gentle and lowly in heart. His kind of partnership along with you will be predictable according to His promises in the Bible. He too learned obedience as in Hebrews?5:8f, “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the Author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Isaiah?50:4f).

In the middle of the school of hard knocks, listen to our Lord’s gracious call to take His yoke upon you, and learn His life lessons for He gives you His Word that you will find rest for your soul! Learn of Him (Ephesians?4:20–24) and yield to Him. Trust and obey.