Be filled with the Spirit . . . submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Ephesians 5:18, 21
Ephesians 5:21 introduces a section in the letter to the Ephesians that deals with the subject of submission. This section includes three parts: the submission of a wife to her husband, the submission of a child to his parents, and the submission of a worker to his boss. Submission is a wonderful and a scary idea. It is often misunderstood and just as often misapplied. It can be abused. It can also be one of the greatest blessings in a Christian family. We are to submit one to another “in the fear of God.” What does this mean? How will it help us have happy Christian families?
Submission, very simply, means to place ourselves under a mission. This means doing something in a voluntary manner that allows the mission to be carried out with excellence. In our employment, we voluntarily put ourselves under the mission of our company and its leaders so we can accomplish a job and make a living. A child is to be trained to voluntarily obey and honor the authorities in his life so he not only protects himself from the curse of rebellion but also brings God’s blessings into his life and future. A wife partners with her husband as he leads the home in order to make the home a loving and happy and peaceful place for the whole family. A husband submits to God’s demands as to how he is to love his wife and family and lead them in a Christlike and servant-minded way. While submission is often viewed negatively because of lousy leadership or worldly philosophies, God intends for it to be a genuine blessing to all involved and a powerful advancing of His design and desires for the Christian.
Defining submission is easy, but practicing it is often more difficult. Leadership often fails. Husbands and wives regularly come up short. Parents stumble frequently. Employers can be difficult to work for. In the home the husband can be so passive that submission is impossible because he has no mission. The following three things may help in practicing submission.
Submission is voluntary. In the Christian home, submission is never forced. It is modeled when the husband voluntarily obeys Christ by loving his wife and leading her. As he seeks God’s will and gently serves his wife, he is providing her the opportunity to voluntarily partner with him in accomplishing God’s best for their family. As parents model genuine Christianity, they are teaching their children how to live successful Christian lives. They are offering their children the opportunity to voluntarily enjoy God’s best blessings all the days of their lives. Submission is always voluntary. No husband should ever force his wife to obey. Even as parents, we don’t force our children to obey, even though we are instructed to teach them that negative behaviors always have negative consequences. That is why we are not to provoke them to wrath. Angering our children is counterproductive and destroys the goal of teaching them to voluntarily obey us and follow God.
Submission requires leadership. No one can properly submit to failing leadership. Husbands need to partner with their wives by leading. We are to follow Christ in developing a Christian home. We should pray about it, make plans on how to accomplish it, establish standards, and set goals. We should have family devotions. Our leadership is required. Wives need to partner with their husbands and help them attain those goals. Submission requires a team effort.
Submission deals with attitude and actions. While leadership may fail, we can still have right spirits. We can respond gently and lovingly. We can follow the directives of a lousy boss, husband, or parent. We can follow Christ and submit to Him even when the leaders under Him are lousy ones. We need right attitudes. No matter what the leaders do, all of us can be gentle and loving and kind and sweet. In fact, having a sweet spirit may be one of the clearest evidences that we are submitting “one to another in the fear of God.”
- What kind of attitude do you have toward the authorities in your life—God, your spouse, your parents, your employer? What can you do to submit to these authorities in the fear of God?
- How can you and your spouse better partner together for a superior marriage and family?
- What steps could you take to better lead your children?
Written by Evangelist Dave Young
This chapter is taken from Home Improvement – Keys to Building a Happy Home