In this day and time, the word submission is often held in a negative light. It is confused with control and servility, a slavish submission to others ruling over us. But, when viewed with a spiritual perspective, submission is an act of love.
Submission is not the same as obedience, although they bear some resemblance. They both recognize there are appropriate responses to authority. However, obedience is a response to a rule and the person of authority judges according to the rule. Submission is NOT a response to rules. It recognizes that an order of authority is in place, but the focus is different. The person under authority submits because the love of the authority figure is their focus.
The human bond of marriage gives us a glimpse into our heavenly relationship with Christ. We, the wise virgins holding our lamps filled with oil (Matthew 25:1-13), wait expectantly for our bridegroom. The church, or Body of Christ, is the Bride… and Jesus is our Husband-to-be. We are to remain ready, alert, and pure for our beloved.
“ Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” Revelation 19:7 (NKJV)
And as a bride looks for ways to please her betrothed; how to serve, honor, and delight him, we too should look for ways to serve, honor, and delight Jesus. Love motivates and instills a desire to dedicate everything to the one we adore. Willingly, we sacrifice and relinquish our own pleasure for that of our beloved. In return, the one we love is blessed and searches out ways to honor and bless us in return.
“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” 1 Peter 3:7 (NIV)
Wives submitting to husbands are all a part of God’s divine plan. It does not mean women are second-class citizens or any less loved or esteemed by the Father. Consider the holy Trinity. Jesus submits to the Father. The Holy Spirit submits to the Son. But all three… Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same. The three are God in one.
When we yield and submit to those we love, or to those with authority over us, there is a bounty of spiritual fruit that comes from our compliance.
“Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men- as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” 1 Peter 2:13-17 (NKJV)
“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good.” Titus 3:1 (NIV)
Jesus is the perfect role model of gentleness. Although He struggled with the cross before Him, while in the Garden of Gethsemane He submitted to the will of His Father. His submission was an act of love to both His Father, and to us.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42 (NIV)
“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.” Isaiah 53:7 (NKJV)
Submission produces gentleness, a facet of the Fruit of the Spirit. Jesus, known as ‘The Good Shepherd,’ calls His people sheep. Sheep are gentle creatures. They are peaceful and submissive. Therefore, a Spirit-filled Christian who manifests the fruit of gentleness will be submissive and useful to the Lord, his Shepherd. A gentle and quiet spirit is very precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 3:4). My hope is that each reader considers the love gift of submission. Remember, the focus of submission is your love for the authority figure.
“Submitting to one another in the fear of God.” Ephesians 5:21a (NKJV)
“Then Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.’” John 5:19 (NKJV)
“For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.” John 12:49-50 (NKJV)
“And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:22-23 (NASB)