Submission is not for the weak

Day 10 – Wednesday, August 10, 2022

“… submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” ~ Ephesians 5:21

I remember one of the first real-world experiences of being a pastor in training: premarital counseling. The senior pastor for whom I was working asked me to participate in a premarital counseling session as part of my training as a seminary student. The couple was a little bit older than me, and they were both settled in their respective careers. As the session continued and I tried to soak in as much as I could, I realized something strange about the conversation, and ultimately the couple in front of me. They kept using terms like “mine” and “hers/his” and this peculiar sense that they lacked any energy towards submitting to one another. They had dug in to the comfort and details of their individual lives and the marriage was more of a business agreement.

This couple didn’t go through with their marriage. They didn’t understand the role and importance of submitting to one another. They both had worldly and outdated (and most definitely unbiblical) ideas of what it meant to submit—to some it evokes ideas of weakness and oppression, and to others of dominance and subjugation. The Apostle Paul describes it as a reflection of being filled with the Spirit!

“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

   - addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,

   - singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,

   - giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

   - submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

He says that if we are filled with the Spirit of God, we live in line with what the will of the LORD is—which is contrary to the way of the world—which is defined, among others, by a biblical understanding of submission. So much so, that Paul goes on to illustrate it for us in what it looks like between a wife and her husband, as it parallels the relationship between the church and Christ. He calls on wives to submit to their husbands JUST AS the church submits to Christ. But then calls on the husbands to LOVE their wives sacrificially, as Christ loves the church, as he sacrificially gave Himself up for her. Husbands are to submit to the needs of their wives, in greater measure—with their lives! The call to embrace the idea of submission is at the center of a humble posture we must have towards one another in marriage, in ministry, in the marketplace BECAUSE of our love for Christ (i.e. out of reverence)—He modeled it for us. This is a product of the Holy Spirit living inside of us. Let us continually submit to the Spirit of God within us, as He calls us to continually submit to one another out of our reverence for our LORD, who is our strength, identity, and security—this is being filled with the Spirit!

Perhaps, you’re thinking, “No way! If I don’t stand up for myself, no one will!” That may very well be the prevailing attitude in our world today—stand up and take control. But I tell you that is not the way the LORD has made our relationships to work properly. If we are to have thriving relationships with our spouses, our co-workers and supervisors, with one another, we must follow the example set before us in Christ, at risk of personal sacrifice, but for the glory of God—testifying to the filling of God’s Spirit within us!

Father, thank You for giving us Your Holy Spirit to not only empower us, to live within us as He testifies to us every day of Your power and faithfulness, and especially Your presence! LORD, forgive us when we take a posture of arrogance or self-reliance, especially when we deal with our brothers and sisters in Christ, our husbands and wives, and the people that we work with. We want to faithfully reflect Christ in our relationships, as You’ve outlined in Your Word. God, help us to embrace a biblical understanding of submission, and how that is so central to our relationship with You and with one another. According to Your Word, this is important. So, as we have been filled with Your Spirit, help us to live our lives accordingly to bring Your glory. In Your name we pray, Amen.

Justin Yim
Ministry Director, CU Gloria Law

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