#MeditationMonday – Out of the abundance of a man’s heart, his mouth speaks.
Beloved, I give thanks to God for the breath of life in you this wonderful day! May the mercies of the Lord accompany you through every trial you encounter this week. This week, we’re meditating on submission.
When it comes to submission we’re quick to shout “wives submit to your husbands” whilst forgetting that submission is an instruction given to every christian, not just the christian wife. We must meditate on all aspects of submission, however there should be a greater focus on the part submission plays in our lifestyles as a spiritual discipline to God rather than the role it plays in relationships. Our submission to God will inform our submission in other relationships.
Submission is a humble attitude where obedience is rendered within a relationship; whether it be to God, authorities or other people at work, in the church, in marriage or in the family. Submission is not a loss of identity or personality; rather, it is a freedom to be more content with God and others. Submission is a theme all over scripture. We are called to submit, not as an afterthought or only when it is convenient but in every aspect of our lives. Submission is instructed to us:
In our relationships with one another
We are called to be subject to one another out of respect for Christ. We must have the attitude of submission found within the trinity. Our equality between one another (in the eyes of God) should not stop us from serving one another.
And be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.— Ephesians 5:21.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men.— Philippians 2:5-7.
In our learning of Scriptures
We must be in submission to scripture.
Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. — Joshua 1:7-8.
To church leaders
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. — Hebrews 13:17.
Individual prophecies must be submitted to the overall judgment of the church.
And the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets — 1 Corinthians 14:32.
Towards civil government
See also Romans 13:2-7.
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. — 1 Peter 2:13-14.
Of children to parents
See Ephesians 6:1-3, Exodus 20:12; Galatians 4:2; Colossians 3:20
Of slaves to masters
See Colossians 3:22-24, Ephesians 6:5-8, Titus 2:9-10;
Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. — 1 Peter 2:18.
Reciprocal attitudes safeguard against abuse
Submission isn’t one-sided, it is a reciprocal discipline. See: Ephesians 5:25-33, 1 Timothy 2:1-2, 1 Peter 5:1-4, Ephesians 6:4.
Most importantly, submission is required by God from all christians.
Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. — Hebrews 12:9-11.
James’s description of becoming submissive before God, begins with a willful rejection of and opposition to the devil, complemented by a deliberate choosing of God.
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
— James 4:7
The devil in this verse isn’t just satan himself but the world and its systems of which satan is the architect. We can’t submit to God if we’re still linked to the works and systems that satan designed. True submission is to flee all appearances of evil and cling to holiness.
Submission increases the quality of our convictions
If our connection to God is weak, our convictions will also be weak. If our connection to the world is strong, we will justify our compromise. Abandon your needs and cater to God’s needs – that’s submission. This is how you resist the devil. You submit to God. If you are focused on catering to God’s needs, you will overlook the distractions of the enemy.
Christians should forsake friendship with the world and by grace learn to glory in submission to God. We must submit to God in duty, love and interest.
Submit your understandings and your wills to the will of God.
We must be submissive not just in fear of God’s wrath, but also because of God’s love. God asks us to submit for our own benefit. God will not hurt us by his dominion over us, but will do us good. A wife must be able to submit to her husband not out of fear but trusting that her submission will not be used against her.
We are directed on how to act towards God, and become submissive to Him, in the continuing verses of James. 4:8-10.
The heart that rebelled must be brought to the foot of God. The distant and estranged spirit must become acquainted with Him. The hearts of the double-minded must be purified. Submission is not rebellion, nor is it distance or double-mindedness.
Those who halt between God and the world are double-minded. A wife who is constantly comparing her husband to others and measuring his achievements by worldly standards is rebellious and double minded.
If a wife’s obedience comes from her behaviour but not her heart, then she is not in submission and that is the same for every christian. The words rebellious, estranged, distant and double-minded are words that require not just a physical compliance but a spiritual one.
Hypocrisy is heart-impurity; those who rightfully submit themselves to God will purify their hearts by filling it with the word of God. Submission to God (and man), cannot be done without the Holy Spirit. Unless you’re filled with the Spirit of God, it makes no sense to submit to another person.
People often look upon submission with terror because they treat it as an absolute that has no limitations. We think of submission as a physical act of subjugation – no, submission is practical and it’s more than obedience. It doesn’t intend to confine woman but to free her.
A woman’s husband was beating her, but she wouldn’t leave. Because of her understanding of the verse, “Wives, submit to your husbands,” this woman said, “I’ll stay as long as I have to—even if it means he kills me.”
This woman was terribly wrong. She misunderstood this verse, and was endangering her life.
An important part of developing the spiritual discipline of submission is to balance being open and humble with knowing when not to let people take advantage of you. Submission doesn’t mean you give up your brain. You don’t go along when you’re being asked to do something that violates Scripture, your conscience, or common sense.
The christian wife is first submitted to God and then to her husband.
Submission is a doctrine you apply to yourself. Scripture doesn’t say, “Tell your wife to submit”—or, “Tell your husbands to step up and be spiritual head of the home.” Instead, each person is asked to work on their own attitude.
Sacrifice is a part of submission. Mourning and weeping for our sins and the sins of others is a part of submission. We submit to God when we mourn our sins and the sins of others. Part of a wife’s submission is to mourn the sins of her husband — she can’t say: well I had no hand in it, it’s entirely His fault (even if this is true). No, for they are one flesh and the consequences will often be upon them both. She ought to mourn his sins and pray to God for mercy. That’s also a part of her submission to her husband and to God.
Submission is a discipline because we have to continually work at it. Submission is to minister to the heart of God and total submission is to do this constantly, throughout our lives and with all of our lives. To cultivate authentic obedience without the drudgery of compulsion; we must be submitted to Christ’s Lordship.
If someone only calls you when they need something, after a while you’ll stop responding. The person who ministers to Jesus’ heart will have His hand. It is submission to pray for others because our intercession ministers to the hearts of people.
When we focus on the inner reality, the outer expression will follow.
If we are submitted in our hearts, our actions will follow suit. We must become the people of God in heart before attempting to do the work of God. It is easier to do God’s will, when you connect with God’s heart, just as King David did.
This also applies to the Christian wife. She cannot be submitted to a man whose heart she is not connected with. All submission comes from intimacy.
The mercies of God can only persuade you into submission, they cannot force.
No woman can be forced into spiritual submission – force may change her actions but only love can change her heart; hence why husbands are told to love their wives.
What Are The Benefits Of Submission?
As we practice the spiritual discipline of submission we grow spiritually, become more patient, humble, and honest. Through submission we are accountable, and stronger in our faith. We are able to listen to others with open minds, and break the cycle of always thinking of ourselves first. Submission allows us to put ourselves in God’s hands more, and build our relationship with Him.
- Hold your tongue: Listen before you speak. Absorb what others are telling you so your responses may be in line.
- Control your words: When you decide to speak, take a moment to test what you are about to say: Is it Kind, Necessary, True, and does It Improve upon the silence?
- Be discerning: Don’t confuse submission in a spiritual sense with allowing people to take advantage of you. Before you do anything, weigh it against the Bible.
- Watch your thoughts: If you find difficult to practice submission, begin asking yourself why. It all starts from the mind/heart. Why are you resistant? Ask God to help you understand yourself more clearly.
- Practice it: Decide to be submissive (yet discerning and reasonable) to those around you. No matter what, put aside your needs or feelings for a few hours and test yourself daily, the more you do it, the easier it gets.
It’s been a long post but if you made it this far, we hope it’s been worth it. Spend the week meditating on all of this and put it into practice by saying this prayer.
Prayer: Dear Lord, please show me the way to refine my living. Remove my garments of disobedience, teach me to be meek and mould my soul into submission. I abandon my spirit in your hands and offer myself to you with all the love in my heart. I give myself to you without reserve, in total surrender and boundless confidence. In Jesus name I pray (Amen).