March 17, 2023
Submission is often a touchy and misunderstood topic, yet it is a vital aspect of our Christian walk.
“[B]e filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.” (Ephesians 5:18-21, emphasis mine)
If we are to submit to one another, we must consider why God places such an emphasis on its role in the church.
Submission is defined as an “act of referring to a third party for judgment or decision”; a study of the word’s Latin roots adds, “a lowering, letting down; sinking,” and “to reduce, yield.” As a verb, submission means “to place (oneself) under the control of another, to yield oneself.” Already, we see common themes! Keep these in mind as we explore submission in honoring God and others.
We find the perfect model of submission in Jesus Christ’s submission to the will of the Father. Submission to the Father characterized Jesus’ life from a young age. Following a Passover celebration in Jerusalem, Luke 2:41-49 describes how Jesus remained in the city unbeknownst to His parents. They found Him three days later, sitting among the religious leaders and asking questions.
When they expressed their anxiety at losing Him, Jesus responded, “Why were you searching for me? [. . .] Didn’t you know that it was necessary for me to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49) Jesus was willing to submit Himself to the Father, even at the cost of causing conflict with His earthly parents.
Throughout the gospels, we see Jesus’ continued submission to the Father’s will. In Matthew 4:1-11, Satan tempted Jesus to worship him and rebel against the Father,
the Son of God,
used the Word of God
to dispel Satan’s attempt to turn Him from God’s ordained plan of salvation.
In the final hours before His arrest, despite the intense suffering He knew awaited Him, Jesus’ prayers revealed His submission to God’s plan for redemption.
“My Father, if this [cup of suffering] cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42)
John 6:38 reiterates, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
1 Peter 2:24 succinctly reveals the fruit of Jesus’ submission. “He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree; so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness.”
Philippians 2:1-11 sums up Jesus’ submission by explaining He was born as a human being and humbled Himself in obedience to God, dying a criminal’s death. “For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross,” doing the will of the Father.
“See, I have come to do your will [. . .] By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time.” (Hebrews 10:10)
Similarly, we are called to follow Jesus’ example in submitting to God. This holy submission stands in sharp contrast to how the world and some Christians view submission, such as oppressive, sexist, or justification for husbands to abuse wives.
Submission is evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit within us. Through faith in Christ, we receive His righteousness as our own and keep His commandments through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Submission denies us the power and privilege we want,
instead choosing to stand under the Lord’s authority, wisdom, and power.
Philippians 2:1-11 helps us understand submission practically by noting its key attributes like humility, loving one another, working together, being humble and considering others as better than ourselves. This is the same attitude Jesus Christ displayed when He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died on the cross in our place. Submission to God’s rule and reign begins with humility and is displayed through genuine love, generosity, and service to all people.
We can submit to one another in real-life and bring honor to the God who humbled Himself for us!
Prayer & Scripture Study
Consistent Bible reading and fellowship with God allows us to know Him and teaches us how to practically love and minster to others. Just as Jesus prioritized time alone with God, so should we. (Matthew 14:23)
Consider Others First
In holding our own desires loosely and actively asking God to use us to love well, opens the door for authentic submission. We can trust that even if submission doesn’t feel fun, God will lead us to that which is “good, pleasing, and perfect[.]” (Romans 12:2)
Servant Heart, Hands, & Feet
Practice choosing to serve others in real-life scenarios as the Holy Spirit leads you to build others up. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Known & Listened To
Take time to honor others with active listening. Without intentional listening to know the other person, we make our submitted service or generous outreach more about our own good feelings than loving others or honoring God. (James 1:19)
Submission is bigger than our preferences and bigger than ourselves. It allows our ego to die so we can enter a joy-filled life with Christ, living in God’s pleasure as He says, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21)
Prayer is central to our ministry as believers in Jesus as we carry eachother’s burdens and intercede for one another. Our team is honored to share the work of praying alongside you!
Authentically living out a life of worship to the God who rescued us from darkness requires accountability and intentionality. Join a GT POD and take the next step in your faith journey!