"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." NIV
That's it; that's all we're dealing with today. I am constantly amazed how one little 6-letter word can cause such animosity. Men and women do not like this word if it is applied to them. They love it when someone else is submitting to them, but not when they have to do the submitting. Why is that? Let's look at the fundamental reason we fight against submission and why God calls us to submit.
Walk through the logic with me. We don't want to submit because that is surrendering control. We don't want to surrender control because we want to be in charge of our own life. We want to be in charge of our own life because we are selfish and think everything should be our way. Wait, I've just walked back to my old self that I was wanting to put off in the first place.
Notice the progression that Paul uses here. It's best understood in the NIV study notes: "Submitting to one another. Basic to the following paragraphs. Paul will show how, in each relationship, each partner can have a conciliatory attitude that will help that relationship. The grammar indicates that this mutual submission is associated with the filling of the Spirit in v. 18. The command 'be filled' (v.18) is followed by a series of participles in the Greek: speaking (v.19), singing (v.19), making music (v.19), giving thanks (v.20) and submitting (v.21)."
We have been living in such a don't-let-anyone-walk-on-you society, that we have lost the art of submission. It really is not a bad thing. And as we see here, it is just one thing in the list that is part of being filled with His Spirit. I love how the study note calls it a "conciliatory attitude" that is for the benefit of our relationships. We work together to make the relationship work as it was designed to be. And if we are filled with the Spirit, and want to imitate God, and desire to live in the new self, not the old, we will act with a heart of praise, thanksgiving, and submission.
Lord, in reverence for You, help me to submit to others today. I want to maintain a right relationship with the people around me.
- Do a study of the Greek word for submit/subject used in Ephesians 5:21. After you go to the link, notice everything I put in the spaces to get to this page. Now click on the word "subject" in the verse. It will take you to the Greek definition. On the right-hand side are other verses using this same word. Click on those and read through where else in the Bible this word is used.
- If you struggle with submission, ask God to reveal to you why you have this problem. Do these reasons line up with God's way to live (the new self) or the enemy's (the old self)? Ask His Spirit to guide you to make the right choices in your relationships.