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The "S" Word - Submit



Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.


Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.


Ephesians 5:21-24


There are some words that we just don’t like. They make the hair on the back of our neck stand up. They make our blood pressure spike. They make our faces get red. We clench our fist and get ready for a fight.


Submit is one of those words. Perhaps the ultimate fightin’ words. Say the word submit and you’ll get an argument. I don’t care what people you’re talking to, say submit and you’ll have someone in your face.


I think the word submit has gotten a bum rap because we submit all the time. (Right now, I’m imagining your reaction to that last sentence; your face is turning red, your eyes are squinting, and you’re getting ready to throw this down.)


Think about it though, we submit all the time.


  • We submit when people play musical instruments or sing, they work hard to submit. They practice, harmonize, play, and sing the notes in front of them, when they’re supposed to, and be quiet when it’s not their turn.

  • We submit all the time we drive. We stop at stop signs and red lights. We don’t turn right on red if there’s a sign. We stay on our lane. We obey the speed limits (sometimes.)

  • We submit at the grocery store when we take a number and wait at the deli counter. We get in line to checkout. We only take food from the shelves, not out of other people’s carts.


How does it make you feel when someone buts in line ahead of you? How does it make you feel when you’re talking, and someone interrupts, talking over you?


I think it’s safe to say that you get at least a little bit upset. And why? It’s not that they didn’t obey some rule written in a blog or appearing on a website. We get upset because their actions affected you. By not submitting, they ran over someone else. They ran over you.


When we submit, it’s a choice. And in every situation, submitting always requires you and someone else. You can’t submit yourself to no one. You can’t be alone and decide to submit yourself.


But God’s view of submitting is a whole lot more than independence. God’s definition of submitting starts with getting along. But it moves on from there, it includes supporting and encouraging one another.


When an army attacks the enemy, they submit to the generals and leadership. Yes, the goal is to defeat the enemy, but it’s also to preserve lives. When an army defends against invaders, solders stand together, fight together. They depend on one another.


When we make the decision to subject ourselves, we’re also saying that we’re satisfied with what we have. We don’t have to take what’s not ours to be happy. We can say that our “enough” is truly enough.


The Ephesians had just been told to speak and sing with one another. This means working together in friendship and harmony. To do that, you have practice submitting. You can’t all speak at the same time. You can’t just talk over everyone else. You have to sing the same songs, using the same tune. You can’t just sing whatever you want.


When we speak together, giving thanks to God, something happens. God shows up. He comes and fills our hearts. This doesn’t happen if everyone’s doing their own thing, talking, and singing over everyone else.


For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.


1 Corinthians 14:33


For God to show up, there has to be submitting. We submit to God, and we also have to submit to one another. When both sides of submitting are working properly, there is a sweet reasonableness in life and in our attitude.


Boy, doesn’t that sound like a great place to be! When we submit to one another, we know who’s on our side. Who’s on our team. No looking over our shoulder. No looking out for someone to stab us in the back. And no looking out for “Number 1.”


We all want to be in that place, but are we willing to pay the price of admission? The uncomfortable and steep price of submission is where we say along with Jesus, “not my will, but yours be done.[1]


If it was good enough for Jesus to submit, then it’s good enough for us too.


Noodling Questions


  • In what areas of life is it easier/harder to submit?

  • How do you get your heart ready for submission?

  • How have you experienced God showing up when you submitted?

[1] Mark 14:36, Luke 22:42

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