The Youth and the Yoke
sermon preached by Dr. Jack Hyles
“It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.” Lamentations 3:27
“My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:30
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13
The writer of Lamentations said, “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” Now a word about a yoke. A yoke is not a burden. A yoke is something that helps you bear the burden. A burden must be borne. The yoke is something that helps you bear it.
By the way, that is the difference between a saved man and a lost man. We all have burdens, but a saved man has a yoke. That is why Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Did you ever wonder about that scripture “My yoke is easy and my burden is light”? Yet the preacher says you are going to have tribulations and persecutions and trials if you become a Christian. He said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Here is what He means. It means the Lord gives you a yoke for your burden.
If you ask a mule, he will tell you. He’ll explain to you that it is easier to carry the burden with the yoke. The yoke makes it easier to pull the burden. And that’s why the Lord said, “My yoke is easy, and if you get yoked up with me, my burden is lighter.” Don’t you see—all of us have burdens. The rain falleth on the just and the unjust. We go to the same cemeteries to weep and mourn. We go to the same funeral home to mourn our loved ones. We go to the same hospitals to have surgery. We have the same burdens and heartaches. All of us have the same. Now the difference between the Christian and the non-Christian is: each has a burden, but the Christian has a yoke that helps him carry the burden.
One of the most important things in life, one of the great secrets of life and joy and happiness is for a person to have a yoke. I would hate to think what I would do without a church. I often say that I wish I could be an Episcopalian Rector and have a little country church out in the woods that had about 15 members, all of them rich with a trout stream running right by the window of the pastor’s study. Boy, I could just sort of take it easy for awhile. But the honest truth is everybody needs a load to carry.
Jeremiah said one time, (and by the way, he is the one who wrote Lamentations) “Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them!” Here is what I think he really said, “I would like to go out to a place where the artists gather, where the hippies hang around, where the folks just sort of hang around and look out and see the scenery and draw.”
I was down in Chicago not long ago and saw a bunch of funny-looking creatures just drawing. Everybody had a canvas and was drawing something. Jeremiah said, “I’d like to go out where the artists hang out in the woods, and I’d like to get a cabin and just sort of hang out for awhile.”
Jeremiah wasn’t happy. Why? Because nobody is happy without a yoke. Nobody is happy without a burden to bear, without a purpose in life. Nobody is happy without a load to carry. Did any of you mothers ever say, “Oh these children, they’re in my hair. They give me fits. I wish that they’d get out from under my feet!” They will one of these days, and you will wish they were back under your feet. Enjoy that load you carry. Enjoy that burden you have. For happy is the man who has work to do and strength to do the work.
So everybody needs a yoke, a purpose in life. One of the great troubles in America is that we have too much spare time. You ask anybody who has been eminently successful in any field if he works 40 hours a week. You ask anybody. I’m laughing at that. Forty hours won’t even begin for somebody that really works.
I called several places and checked on Dr. Billings. One man said, “One thing about the fellow is that he gets a lot done in a hurry. Sometimes he moves so fast you can’t keep up with him. He works day and night.” Of course, we are expecting 18 or 20 hours every day! Now, of course, we’ll not expect that. Fifteen is enough for anybody! But we’ll not expect that. I’ll tell you what though, if he gets the job done, he will work day and night. Anybody who leads anything has to work at it and has to bear the yoke. One of the things wrong with America is our 40-hour work week. Now what? A thirty-two hour week! And when we get it, we will have more spare time.
Go to the average drive-in hamburger place and see the folks hanging around. Some of your kids, God pity them, just hanging around the average little drive-in place, flirting with all the girls, and trying to make a date with the car hops and so forth. You parents don’t even know where they are! Everybody has got time on their hands. That’s the trouble with hippies. They don’t have anything to do, so they just decide to ruin America.
Most of those people are not children of poverty-stricken families. Somebody is financing their efforts. Young people on government checks believe there is no use to work, because all the hard-working people are going to support them anyway. If they don’t, they will demonstrate and burn the buildings and then the hard-working people will be sorry. Everybody wants to loaf. Nobody wants to work.
Young people and old people alike, I don’t care who you are, you are not going to be happy unless you have a load to carry. You need responsibility. You need to have a burden to bear, a load to pull, something for which you are responsible. Everybody needs that. And so, I thank God for a yoke.
I was thinking yesterday, or the day before, as I was preparing the thoughts about this message, how I thank God for my yoke. I enjoy my work. George Bernard Shaw said, “Happy is the man who makes his living at his hobby.” Mickey Mantle said, “Happy is the fellow who gets paid for what he would do for nothing anyway.”
I recall the first full-length sermon I every preached at a church on Sunday morning and again on Sunday night. I was the supply preacher and, at the end of the day, a fellow walked up and handed me a check for $12. I said, “What’s that for?” He said, “It’s for $12.” I said, “What’s it for?” He said, “It’s for preaching.” I said, “You mean you get paid?” He said, “Sure.” I pointed my finger in his face, and I said, “You have insulted my integrity. As long as I live and breathe, I’ll never take money for preaching.” Now, I’ve quit living and breathing, but why? I love the work. I love it!
I love the work of preaching and pasturing. The yoke is easy and the burden is light. I feel sorry for preachers. All across the country tomorrow morning nervous wrecks will crawl out of bed (and you preachers know this is true) Reverend So-and-So had to preach yesterday. He’s about to have a crack up. So what did he do? He had to preach twice. He preached 30 minutes Sunday morning and 30 minutes Sunday night. “I am just so tense, I have got to get out on the golf course. Nervous. Why? He had to preach yesterday. He has to settle his nerves on the golf course. You’ve heard me say this before. When I go play golf, it takes me a good sermon to settle my nerves. The Lord said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” And I thank God for a load. I thank God for responsibility.
Sometimes the burden gets heavy. Sometimes the load gets a bit heavy. Why, of course it does! But I’d rather have the heavy load than no load at all. I want to make a public announcement and serve notice on you deacons, all 75 of you. Don’t you expect me to retire at 65 or 75 or 85 either. I’ll probably get shot before I’m 45. don’t expect me to retire at 65, not at all. I am trying to take good care of myself. I aim to go a long way beyond that.
What am I saying? I like the work! I talked to a preacher not long ago. He said, “Brother Hyles, I would go independent, but I’ve got my retirement plan with my denomination. Do you have a retirement plan?” I said, “Yes, I do.” He said, “I am surprised. I didn’t think you would. Who do you have yours with?” I said, “Paul.” He said, “Paul who?” I said, Philippians 4:13-19, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” You can’t beat that retirement plan. There is not a retirement plan on earth but that one that promises to take care of all your needs but that one.
You can just go right ahead and talk about a guaranteed income and about hospitalization, and about medical expenses, and about all you want to talk about. But there is not one single plan in the world that promises to take care of all your needs except God’s promise through the Apostle Paul in Philippians, chapter 4.
Now he said, “Brother Hyles, I would go independent.” I am not saying everybody should go independent. I’m sure there are some people who ought not to. I don’t know who they are, but I’ll say this. If I belonged to a denomination that approved, as the Presbyterians do, social drinking, I would dead sure pull out. Now you can just take that with a lump of salt, too. I would dead sure pull out. If I belonged to a denomination that had in it preacher after preacher who did not believe in the verbal inspiration of the Bible or the deity of Christ, I would get out.
But he said, “Brother Hyles, I’d lose my retirement plan.” Well, I don’t have to worry about that, I told him, because I don’t plan to retire.
I got a letter just last week. A fellow said, “I am thinking about pulling out of a liberal denomination, but I want to ask you a few questions first. What medical plan do you have? And what retirement plan do you have? And do you have social security?” A whole long list of things was there, and what he was saying is this: If you can live by faith, without having to live by faith, he will live by faith. I mean if you have a guaranteed way to get provisions, maybe he can trust the Lord from there on in.
No, I thank God for a yoke. I thank God for a burden to bear. I thank God for work. I thank God for a purpose in life. Now then, the writer of Lamentations said, “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” Now hang onto that; it’s the text. It is good for a man to bear the yoke. When? In his youth.
What he is saying is this: Not only should the adults have responsibilities and have a load to carry, but the young people ought to carry the load, too. What does it mean? It means the young people ought to carry the financial load of the church like anybody else. Get under the yoke. Get under the yoke. It means young folks ought to tithe like anybody else. It means that little children like these down here, when they get their allowances, ought to give God a penny of every dime they get. Carry the load like anybody else.
A young person should bear the yoke of soul-winning. We have some of the finest soul winners in American in our kids. Last Friday night, at our house, half a dozen boys came by and met in our den. David, my boy, and half a dozen other boys were there, going out soul-winning on their own. There was no organized invitation; just going out soul-winning on their own. That’s the way it ought to be. You ought to carry the load: The financial load, the soul-winning load, the decency load, the workload, the service load. Young people ought to do it. That’s why the writer said, “It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.”
I want to give you three or four things tonight concerning the youth and his yoke.
1. A young person ought to bear the yoke of responsibility. The youth ought to carry the load of responsibility. One statement that has just about ruined America is this one, and I quote what many of you say, “I just want my child to have the privileges I didn’t have.” Now that statement has about killed our country. “I just don’t want my child to have to walk five miles in the snow to school.” By the way, I walked four miles every morning!
Every time kids came over to our house I was always telling Becky (I used to) and now I tell David (I used to tell Becky more than I did anybody else), “Let me take a little while and I could tell your friends some stories about when I was a kid.” “Oh, come on, Dad, stay out of the room.”
But I just want my child to have the privileges I didn’t have. What happens? Here is a little baby. He’s in the crib. He is a few days old. What’s the first thing we do? We call an insurance man and take out an education policy on him. We give him a college education before he has even gone home or almost even before they spanked the breath in his body. He is still crying and they’re writing his name on his crib. He still has wrinkles in his face and he’s as red as a tomato and as shriveled as an old peach. We’re saying, “I want him to have the privileges I didn’t have.” And so you give him a college education. You say, “Here fellow, here’s a college education.”
What happens? In the nursery, we give him a bicycle before he’s even out of diapers. We buy him a football uniform. We want to give him the things we didn’t have. We give him so spankings. We pick up after him. He has no responsibilities. He has no yoke. He has no burden. He has no job. He has no duties.
Listen, that kid would be a lot better of if he were like you and had to milk the cows before sun up in the morning—a lot better off. “I just want him to have the advantages I didn’t have or the privileges that I didn’t have.” What happens? You give him too many gifts. Our kids have so many gifts. You know it is the truth. They’ve got so much stuff now. They are so sick of all the stuff you have given them out of parental vanity until nowadays most of them, the babies especially, when they open a gift, throw the gift away and play with the box. You know it’s the truth. How many of you have seen your babies or children do that? Raise your hand. Why, of course, you’ve seen them. Why? We want them to have the privileges that we didn’t have. We give them no duties, no work, a car, no strict rules, go where they want to go, come in when they want to come in and send them off to a heathen college.
I’ll tell you what. I was amazed this morning at how many people had not been to a state university or college in the last three years. You had better just sort of check up and see what is going on. I know people this morning that did not raise their hand. They had not been to a secular college or a state university in the last three years; yet, they sent their young people to one!
You wouldn’t buy a car without looking at it. You wouldn’t buy a suit of clothes without looking at it. And yet you take the most precious thing you have, your children, and ship them off to some college because you bowed down before the shrine and the god of secular education, because back yonder one day a certain school was good. Listen, nowadays the schools are going to the devils so fast you almost have to check every day on how they are doing. Yet the honest truth is, you take that little child when he’s a baby and give him everything he wants and never spank him and never give him any duties, never give him any responsibilities at all. What happens? The child grows up without it. He has the privileges that you didn’t have and then he breaks your heart.
There’s a man in this room tonight, a couple in this room tonight, two of the sweetest Christians I know in this church. This man is a hard-working man. I mean he is not a man who sits behind a desk. He is a man that works by the sweat of his brow and toils with the labor of his hands; a God-fearing man who loves God. He teaches Sunday school in this church. You don’t know his name. Don’t try to guess. He is a God-fearing man; a wonderful man. He worked to send his boy to college. He worked to give his boy privileges he didn’t have. Here is the sad case. This fellow didn’t have a formal education. He didn’t get to go to college or a university. So he said, “I want my boy to have what I didn’t have.” The fellow worked and saved; his wife sacrificed; and they lived a humble, sacrificial life to save money to send their boy to school. And what happened? They boy went to school and some cheating, lying, dirty professor, who is a robber and a thief, stole that boy from his parents! He took the money those parents sacrificed and sweated to make and stole that boy’s affection. And that boy, who was such an idiot, didn’t have any more sense than to hear what some godless professor said over the sacrificial advise of God-fearing parents, became ashamed of his mother and dad. I have got more respect for a bookie in New York City than I have a fellow who is ashamed of Mom and Dad because he’s got a few degrees behind his name and they didn’t have the privilege of going to college when they were kids. What happened? He got ashamed of his parents.
I talked to him one day and he said, “My parents don’t know much. They mean well.” I said to him, “Young man, you hear me and you hear me well. Your parents have more real sound education in their big toe than you have got in your brain!” What happened? I’ll tell you what happened. God-fearing parents didn’t listen to the warning of faithful preachers like this one and others. What I am trying to say is, know where your children are going to school! Don’t give them everything at their beck and call.
Time and time again I have been on airplanes. I don’t know whether I’ve told you this or not, but if I have I want you to hear it again. In fact, I want to hear it myself. I was in a certain city in the church of one of the 25 largest Sunday schools in America. They were listed in “Christian Life” magazine. The pastor was a young man in his forties, a young kid, and his wife and I were sitting in a Howard Johnson’s restaurant having lunch together. Their little boy, about four years of age, was a little demon. This man who stands up and says, “Hell is hot, sin is black, you have to get born again, don’t you tell me what to preach,” said to his little boy, “Son, please be quiet. Would you like a piece of candy?” He bribed that kid to be quiet because we could even talk. The boy said, “No,” to a prophet of God.
I said to this boy, “Now son, you be quiet.” He said, “No!” And I said, “Sit still. Don’t you ever say no to me as long as you live!” I gave him a double-whammy. I said, “You sit down.” He looked at me and I could read his thoughts. He thought, “I think he means it.” (like those devils over in Acts, Chapter 19, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are ye?’ I think this fellow knows what he’s doing.”) And I said to myself under my breath, “Sure I know what I’m doing.” That little four-year-old, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s not still sitting there in that restaurant. That boy learned more from me in 30 seconds than he learned from his parents in four years.
You have heard me say this. My boy, David, is almost 16. He has never heard me clap because he sings. Now he can sing. He has a good voice. I taught him all he knows. He and I have a lot in common. He sings and has a good voice and you have heard him sing. I’ve never one time clapped because David could sing. Time and time again when I’ve said, “Son, do this” and David said, “Yes, sir,” I’ve clapped.
Our young people need to learn to bear the yoke of responsibility while they are yet children. These boys and girls in the front row down here need to have a yoke. That’s what the wise man said, “It is good fro a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” Let him learn to shoulder the yoke. Let him learn to share in the responsibility.
I was thinking about that dear family about whom I spoke awhile ago. They are godly people, sweet Christians, the kind of people of which First Baptist Church of Hammond is made. Average type people about whom I am talking. Now their boy, ashamed of his mother and father, has gone off and makes fun of our church, laughs at our standards, comes to our church and snickers while I preach.
Why? I’ll tell you why. Because those godly parents (and they are here tonight and know this is true) said about their boy when he was a little child, “We want him to have the privileges we didn’t have,” and so they sacrificed.
But do you know, as I have in my book, “Blue Denim and Lace, that every privilege and every asset has a liability, and every liability has a corresponding asset? The higher the building goes, the deeper the foundation must be laid. The higher the tree, the deeper the roots.
The honest truth is the folks who had to milk the cows and gather the eggs and get up early and chop the wood and build the fire had some advantages. I have often said that when I was a little boy, we had to bank the stove at night. Not all you folks know what it is. That’s when you close the grate, close the damper, get all the wind off the stove and off the fire, and the fire banks at night.
I’ve often said that as far as I know, I am the only person that’s every lived who has gotten out of bed in the morning, gotten up on a linoleum floor, gone to the stove, opened the grate, opened the damper on the stove pipe, gotten the poker, stirred the fire, gotten the fire going and gotten back in bed without my feet touching the floor one time. It was as cold as blue blazes!
To the average boy, Mother says, “Get up, Junior.” Junior says, “I want to stay in bed.” His mother hollers, “Get up!” Learn to bear the yoke of responsibility.
I thank God that I knew as a kid what it was to be hungry. I thank God that I drank water out of a dipper. Did you ever drink water out of a dipper? You poor heathens! I thank God that at our house we had an old-fashioned bucket and we had a well. We primed the pump and sometimes got the water out of the well. Everybody drank out of the same dipper and put the dipper right back, with saliva and everything else, into the bucket of water. Don’t look so educated and formal. How many of you did the same thing? Of course you did.
By the way, we didn’t have any diphtheria epidemics either. We didn’t have time. We were too busy. If we got sick, we just had a mustard plaster. How many of you ever had a mustard plaster? Penicillin is nothing! Brother, there’s no disease you’ve got that a mustard plaster on your chest and on your back and some black drought down your throat won’t cure. If it doesn’t cure you, It will make you so uncomfortable you won’t care if you are sick.
I thank God I knew what it was to take a bath in a number two tub. I thank God, and you’ll forgive me, that I knew what it was not to have indoor plumbing. I mean an old-fashioned out house, and I’m glad about it. “But I just wish my children could have the advantages that I didn’t have.”
My daughter Becky is in college and she’s having to tough it a bit, and I’m just dying laughing. She is going to these stores that have seconds, buying her clothes, and paying them out a dollar a week. It just tickles the fire out of me. They had a Christmas tree in their dormitory, and do you know how they got it? Just like we used to get ours. They went out in the woods and got a hatchet and stole one quickly and ten ran back to the car and drove off, hoping no one saw them! “You stand up in front of the posted sign so nobody will see it, and I’ll get a Christmas tree.” Don’t look at me with that sanctified, pious look. You wouldn’t be laughing if you didn’t get yours that way.
It is good for a kid to get up early in the morning. It’s good to go to work in the morning. It’s good for him to bear the load. It’s good for him to have the responsibilities that I had. I thank God I know what it is to read by the light of the kerosene lamp. I thank God I had a paper route when I was ten. I had a “Dallas Morning News” route back when the morning paper was not what you read at brunch; you read it at breakfast. We had to have our papers opened and delivered and on their way by 3:30 in the morning when I was ten.
I thank God that I worked in the summertime. I thank God I was a paratrooper. I thank God I laid oak floor for a living to go through college. I thank God I worked 40 hours a week, pastored a full-time country church, and spent 15 or 16 hours in college at the same time. I thank God for every battle I’ve had to face or faced as a kid. Why? Because it is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.
You take that kid and spoil him rotten an cater to his every whim, and you will live to see the day you’ll regret having said, “I want him to have the privileges I didn’t have.”
I was on a plane eight or nine years ago flying out to California to preach in Los Angeles. I was sitting beside a lady in one of these coach sections with the three seats abreast. I was next to the aisle. This little lady, (she must have been about 23 or 24 years of age), was sitting beside the window and between us was her little boy of about three years old. He crawled all over her. He absolutely crawled all over her. His footprints were all over her dark blue dress. She was having a time and she did everything she could to get him to be quiet.
I did what I did to that preacher in the Howard Johnson’s restaurant. I just turned over and I said, “You hush!” And he felt led to hush. Do you know for two and one-half hours we had peace on that plane. That little boy was like the city of Pompeii—he froze—he turned into a pillar of salt!
They came to serve him his dinner and she said, “Do you want anything to eat?” He didn’t even say no or yes; he just shook his head. There is not a kid in the world that couldn’t be cared for and corrected and couldn’t amount to something if you would let him bear the yoke in his youth.
You say, “Brother Hyles, I don’t want my child to have to work. I had to get up and work hard and provide for the family.” Well, sure you did! America was built with that kind of people. It’s good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.
2. A young person ought to bear the yoke of spiritual service. I am a little weary of our youth programs in the average church in America. I’m a little tired of them. I’m a little tired of thinking the average youth program is nothing but a box of popcorn and a glass of lemonade and a bowling ball and a hay ride.
I will tell you something else, too, kids. You’re not worth a dime; you’re not worth the powder it would take to blow you up if you would got to a tobogganing party and wouldn’t go to a youth rally in our chapel. There’s something drastically wrong with your spiritual temperature. If you’ll flock by the droves to go see a Purdue University basketball game and won’t go to the Rescue Mission over in Chicago to see a bunch of men who are lost in sin hear the gospel of Christ, there is something wrong with your spiritual temperature.
Now the honest truth is, it is time your bore the yoke. You have gotten the idea that a kid just has to have fun. Did you ever stop and think you ought to come to church so somebody else could have some fun?
What is wrong with a kid bearing the yoke and the burden himself? What’s wrong with coming to church because you are supposed to come? What’s wrong with coming because it’s your church and your program and you want to be where god’s people are and want to do what is right to do.
When you get older, you will be a deacon or a Sunday school teacher and do things you don’t want to do. You will not do what you don’t want to do when you get older, if you won’t do what you don’t want to do while you are younger. I am sick of the youth programs that are catering to the fancies of our young people. They are like cafeterias-allowing the young people to take what they want and leave what they don’t want. If it’s fund they go; and if it’s not fun they don’t go.
We’ll have a bowling party and fill up three buses for a youth program. How many folks went to the ballgame yesterday? One hundred fourteen went to the ballgame. How many folks went to that youth rally where one of the finest youth directors in America came from Florida to speak to the teenagers? Fifty or sixty came, and 14 of those were visitors and 16 of those had to come to sing.
Look kids, there is something wrong with you. Did you hear me? There’s something wrong. You are being trained not to bear the yoke. You are being trained that a youth program is to entertain you, and there’s something wrong in your heart. It is high time a lot of parents and a lot of kids realize that while you are young, there are things that you are going to have to do because they’re right do! “Well, I just didn’t have any fun last week, the kids just weren’t nice to me.” Why don’t you just come some week to be friendly to them?
I know parents and I am not trying to hurt anybody’s feelings. God knows I am trying to make some decent kids, and if you’ll back me, we will do it.
Brother Fisk is here tonight. They are moving back from California to this area and back to this church, thank God. I recall when C.W. Fisk was here as assistant pastor. He came to me one night and said, “Brother Hyles, somebody in the church has disciplined my boy David and I think it may be a little strong. What do you think?” I said, “You back the person that disciplined him.” You back them. He said, “Brother Hyles, he can’t go to choir for eight weeks.” I said, “Okay, then he doesn’t go to the group for eight weeks. Even if he was punishedddd too strongly, you will make a better boy out of him backing authority.”
I just want to say this, and I didn’t intend to say this. I think I’ll just go ahead and blast off. I just feel led to get really vocal. When Dr. Billings decides to discipline your child and your child comes home some night and has to stand up while he eats, don’t you waste your time calling me on the telephone saying, “Preacher, I want to talk to you about what Dr. Billings did to my boy.” Because, brother, I’m going to be sitting there counting them as he gives them—Amen one, Amen two, Amen three.
You say, “What if Dr. Billings is wrong?” I don’t care if he makes a few mistakes. It is always better to trust authority! Always better. Amen? You better just go ahead and get used to it because I’m not going to be an escape valve for you when your child is being disciplined.
I would ten thousand times rather my child get hit too hard than not at all when he needs to get a spanking. You say, “Brother Hyles, you sound like you are for spanking.” Well, let me make it a little clearer. I am for spankings. Is that clear enough? You say, “Brother Hyles, at school?” Yes, at school. Where I went to school, they didn’t have backs on the chairs. It made it easier for the teacher to reach you with a paddle.
When I was in first grade at Elizabethdon School, two of our teachers, Mr. Brown and Mr. Smith had paddles in their rooms. You signed your name every time you got a spanking. That’s where I learned to write. That’s where I learned to write my signature!
When a child is saved, I don’t care if he’s eight years old, he ought to become a good Christian. Young people, if you are going to become a good Christian you’re going to have to say, “That’s my church and that’s my youth program.” We had a youth activity last night and it wasn’t any fun. The only reason you come to church is to satisfy your appetite for fun.
The honest truth is while you are young, you had better learn to carry the yoke. When we have a youth rally in that chapel, I don’t care if you like the speaker or not. I don’t care if you have a good time or not. In the first place, if you were right with God, you would have a good time. But I don’t care if you have a good time or not! You ought to say, “That’s my church.” I’m a young person here. I’m for my church, and I’m going to be there.”
People come to me and say, “I’m going to go back to the school activities. They are more fun than the youth activities at church.” Well, you will go down with Elijah, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as one of the great Christians of all time. What is wrong with going because you are supposed to go?
There are people in this church that come to hear me preach Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. They would not miss. They are like the fellow Dr. Rice talks about. He drank ten cups of coffee one day, and the lady said, “You must like coffee.” He said, “Yes Ma’am, I do like coffee or I wouldn’t have drunk so much hot water to get a little bit of it.” You have to keep coming and keep coming and keep coming to get enough spiritual food to feed you.
Many of you have gone home and have said to your husband, “The preacher wasn’t quite on tonight. He wasn’t his best tonight.” But did you come back? Of course you came back. Why? Because you’ve got integrity. You’ve got character. You’ve got honor. You’ve got decency. You’ve been taught loyalty to the church. A young person ought to carry the spiritual service yoke. Rallies as well as te hay ride, mission as well as the ballgame.
When I was in Texas pasturing the Miller Road Baptist Church (I want the young people to hear this), we had some young people who got burdened about spiritual activities. They called their own prayer meetings on Saturday nights. Those kids came without an adult sponsor. They came to the altar of our church, and every Saturday night they spent two hours or more on their faces praying for the services on Sunday. Then they would testify for awhile. One of the young preacher boys would preach to them for awhile.
I have seen those kids come and stay on their knees at church until 10:00 or 10:30. I’ve seen them go down to the public square in Garland, Texas, and pass out tracts and witness and have street services in little country towns on their own!
They didn’t have to have a wiener. Now, I’m not against wieners. I’m not against pizza. You need something to stick you together and paste you together on the inside. I’m not against having refreshments, but I’ll tell you what I am against. I’m against having to cater to any Christian through a carnal program to get him to come to God’s house. I feel any Christian who is six, sixteen, sixty, or one hundred and sixty, ought to come to God’s house for his spiritual appetite as well as his carnal appetite.
If you would not come to a Gospel rally where the Word of God is going to be preached without refreshments as readily as one with refreshments, there is something wrong with your spiritual temperature. It is time that a lot of you kids got the idea that you’re supposed to carry the load, too.
Suppose we have a deacons meting the first Saturday night of each month. I send the word to the deacons and say, “Deacons, I want you to be sure and come, and in order to entice you a little bit, we are going to have pizza and lemonade.” And so the deacons meeting is up. Do you think a man is worth being a deacon who will come for pizza, who won’t come because he is a deacon and is supposed to come? No. But you have the same salvation he does, don’t you? Did Christ die for you as well as he did for him?
Look, young folks. You are setting your habits now for a lifetime. One of those young people at those Saturday night prayer meetings is pastoring a church in the state of Kansas. Another is in Texas, pastoring a church. Another is in South Carolina, an assistant pastor of a church. Another is a fine school teacher in a Christian school in Texas. Another is a fine deacon in a large church.
The years have come and gone and those young people have grown up. Why did preachers, missionaries, music directors, and school teachers come out of that group? I’ll tell you why. Because they bore the yoke of spiritual service when they were young.
Brother Streeter, someday you ought to be able to announce a prayer meeting for the youth activity, and every kid in this house ought to be there. We would give no violet pops, no chocolate-covered peanuts, no popcorn, no pizza, and no whistles or bugles or trumpets or saxophones or any of it. Just a prayer meeting! You can say, “I didn’t have much fun!” Well, then, you probably need the prayer more than you thought you did. If you will bear the load while you are young, you will amount to something when you get old. You get the habit as a young person of only doing that which satisfies one of the senses: It’s got to look good, smell good, taste good, or you don’t enjoy it. When you become an adult, you’ll be the same way. Do something for God while you are young.
I pastored outside Marshall, Texas, when I was a kid preacher. I pastored the college church where I went to college. I was a sophomore in school and I pastored some of the faculty. It was not unusual for me to look out and see the vice president of the college in the service where I would be preaching. I didn’t know much Bible, but I was pastor of the church.
I would get a verse. Let’s just take Daniel 4:24, “This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High which is come upon my lord the king.” I’d take that one verse, go down to the college library of East Texas Baptist College, and study every commentary in that library on that verse. I’d study the original language. I’d become a scholar on that verse. I didn’t know another verse in the Bible, but I knew that one. I knew it better than anybody could know it. I knew every scholar’s interpretation. I would get up the next Sunday morning and I would preach on that one verse.
If anybody would ask me to explain the next verse, I couldn’t have done it. I preached on that one verse. The faculty would come out and they’d say, “He is the smartest kid in our school. Boy that fellow, he knows his Bible.” What they didn’t know was, that I didn’t know the meaning of the next verse.
I saw young people come and go. I saw college students who were always going to do something some day. “When we get out of school, we’re going to do something big.” They never did. There’s not much Christianity in a Christian who goes off to college and does not move his membership somewhere to serve God in the local church while he’s away from home. There is not much Christianity there.
I’ll tell you another thing, too. You will not amount to much if you do not have your membership in a church where you live. No, you won’t amount to much. You can look up and gristle all you want to, but you wait and see. Someday when you don’t amount to much, write me and tell me, would you please? No, you won’t; because you won’t amount to enough to write.
I saw the students who said, “We’ll get busy in a local church. We’ll teach Sunday school. We’ll sing in the choir. We’ll be faithful. This is our church.” Now those are the kids who are amounting to something after the years have come and gone. They are doing something for God. The habits you start now will stay with you forever.
3. A young person ought to bear the yoke of problems. Problems? Yes, problems. You say, “Brother Hyles, I just don’t want my little darling to have to go through any persecution.” I have got four little darlings, and I hope very one of them get laughed at at school for their stand.
Becky came home from Munster High School and said they called her the “Jesus Girl.” You know what I said? Do you think I say, “Poor Becky.” I said, “God bless you, Becky.” I paid kids to keep calling her that! Young folks ought to have to suffer, too.
You say, “I just hate to see the children being criticized at school.” Well, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego weren’t grandparents when they were thrown into the fiery furnace. Daniel wasn’t on social security when he faced the hungry lions! I hate to see the children suffer. I hear preachers say all the time, “You know, it is so hard to be a preacher’s kid.” I don’t feel sorry for you. Don’t come whining around me.
Can you picture John the Baptist coming home and saying, “They don’t like me. They laughed at me.” Well, of course, they laughed at you! If they don’t laugh at you and think there’s something wrong with you, then there is something from with you. I want to tell you this. My boy will kill me for telling you this. Dr. Billings, when you were here last time, I talked to you into the night after the service, and my boy, David, was waiting for me. He sat there and waited and waited and waited. I’d forgotten about him but he always rides home with me after the service.
I finished and there was David waiting for me. David is not quite 16 and a typical kid. There is nothing pious about him. I asked him if he didn’t get a little weary waiting and he said one of the sweetest things he has ever said. He said, “I just walked up and down the hall and though how many people in America would like to wait an hour and a half to get to ride home with Dr. Jack Hyles.” That’s what my boy said. I don’t feel sorry for preachers’ kids. I think they ought to thank God their dad is a preacher.
A little girl wrote me a note the other day and said, “Dear Brother Hyles,” (She spelled dear, D-E-R-E and brother, B-R-U-T-H-E-R.) She said, “I just wanted to tell you that, in spite of the fact that everybody at my school hates you, I love you anyhow.” Boy, that’s a left-handed way to brag on a fellow. You know it?
We used to have a fellow that would meet me over here as I walked in the door, and he would put his arm around my shoulder and say, “Brother Hyles, I want you to know I’m for you. I don’t care what they say.” I’d say, “Hey, before you leave, what did they say?”
I just think young folks ought to bear the yoke, too. Sure!
Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed thru’ bloody sees?
Sure, I must fight, if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.
Just bear the yoke. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.
Ten and one-half years ago when I came here we had a battle. A lot of you folks remember those days. We have tried to forget them, haven’t we? I almost threw in the towel. You know why I didn’t? I’ll tell you why I didn’t. I started to Lisbon School when I was a boy in the fifth grade. I was a Christian, and they had a little dance that they were using at our school. I like a little girl named Jean Muller. I thought she was the prettiest thing in the world. I was sitting across the room from her writing a note. “Dear Jean, Do you like me? I will like you if you will like me.” She wrote back and said, “Dear Jack, I like you and Harry.” I wrote back and said, “Dear Jean, then I like you and Bonita.” If she was going to have two; I was going to have two!
The school was teaching the young people this dance, but I wouldn’t do it because my pastor taught me it was wrong to dance, whether it was round, square, folk or ballroom. And I still believe that. You say, “Brother Hyles, prove it.” I don’t have to prove it. I just believe it because I believe it.
I pitched on our softball team, and for the first time in the history of Lisbon School, the fifth grade won the school championship. The fellows said, “He’s a little ol’ sissy Christian anyhow.” They decided to end the school year beating me up. They put a rope across the door out of which I walked. The battle started then.
When I went to junior high school, I was elected president of the graduating class. Mrs. Kerr, who was in charge of the graduating activities told me I was to lead the conga. I was to lead that junk! Isn’t that something? Isn’t that educated and cultural? Paganism! I have forgotten more culture than the average person in Hammond.
Mrs. Kerr said, “You’re president of the senior class, and I’m going to teach you how to dance.” She looked awfully old. I suspect she was thirty! I was 15. She grabbed me and put her arms around me and I broke away. She said, “Come on, you and the secretary of the class are the once dance first.” And I said, “No, Ma’am, I don’t dance.” She said, “Well, I know you don’t, but you will in a few minutes. It won’t take long.” I looked up and I said, “Mrs. Kerr, I don’t believe Jesus wants me to dance.”
Boy, she dropped me like a hot potato. She walked off! If somebody had not taught me to stand for right when I was in junior high, you would not have me as your pastor tonight.
When I attended East Texas Baptist College, they called me a fanatic. My college president called me to his office and said, “Jack, you’re stirring up trouble.” I said, “I know.” They had smoking on the platform of our school and had a quartet singing the song, “Cigarettes, Whiskey, and Wild, Wild Women” at a Baptist college.
He said, “Well, Jack, you’ve been going out to your country church and preaching about that.” And I said, “Yes, I have and I’m going to keep it up, too.” He said, “Well, you’re causing trouble.” I said, “I wouldn’t, if you would have ‘Amazing Grace’ instead of ‘Cigarettes, Whiskey and Wild, Wild Women’ sung on campus.”
Some of you might say, “Well, Brother Hyles, how do you get like you are?” It is a long, hard process. I have been carrying the yoke for a long time, kids. I’ve walked alone for years. I’ve been like this since I was a boy. When you become a preacher, you don’t suddenly pick up the yoke.
You do not compromise and go to only the youth activities you like, and only those that serve your favorite refreshment, and only those where you go tobogganing (and I’m not against tobogganing), and only those where you go bowling, and come to the youth activity when there is a sermon, become a preacher and suddenly have a big battle like we had ten years ago and say, “I’ll die for what’s right!” You don’t do it unless you will die for what’s right when you’re a kid. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.
Let us pray.