"Yield" comes from the root "to pay" or "to surrender." The printout of the Oxford English Dictionary's definition of yield runs 26 pages. Though the word yield is rarely used in scripture, the concept is used in three important ways, which we will discuss here.
The first is to surrender, submit, give way, give up or relinquish possession of to give one's self up, to be dedicated or devoted to.
The second sense is actually the opposite of the first, namely to not yield or submit or give in to, particularly to Satan or his temptations. One aspect of this sense relates, for example, to the yield-strength of steel, which is the amount of pressure it can resist before breaking.
The third sense is the capacity of yielding or producing.
In what I will call the "crop-yield" sense, we see this use in terms of multiplying our talents and magnifying our callings. As Jesus said about those who multiplied their talents, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things" (Matthew 25:21). Further, "whoso is faithful unto the obtaining of these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the spirit" (Doctrine and Covenants 84:33).
In the "yield not" sense, we are taught to "Remember the awfulness in transgressing against that Holy God, and also the awfulness of yielding to the enticings of that cunning one" (2 Nephi 9:39). President Boyd K. Packer has taught, "However out of step we may seem, however much the standards are belittled, however much others yield, we will not yield, we cannot yield" (Ensign, November 2003).
In the "yielding up our hearts" sense, the Apostle Paul taught that we are to "present (our) bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God" (Romans 12:1). Paul further teaches, "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" (Romans 6:19). In the Old Testament, "Hezekiah invites all Israel to a solemn Passover in Jerusalem ... " (preface to 2 Chronicles 30). " ... be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the Lord, and enter into his sanctuary" (2 Chronicles 30:8).It is this sense of yield that is at the heart of our gospel commitment and brings to our mind all the scriptures related to meekness and submissiveness, as in "not my will but Thy will." It is the supreme exercise of our agency to give up that which our Father in heaven will not take from us, but stands ever ready to receive and bless us for this submission. However, notwithstanding his constant presence, it is only our unnatural act of submission that can put us on the right path. "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticing of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man" (Mosiah 3:19).
Joseph A. Cannon is editor of the Deseret News.