“Relational well-being comes when those who follow Jesus—submit to Jesus—and to each other.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 21, 2022
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21
Many of my relational conflicts over the years could have been avoided if I had first chosen to honor Christ by submitting to the other person. Deference to my most important relationships, makes them feel the most important. If a relationship is dumbed down to the unkindly parsing of each other’s behavior for the purpose of finding faults, then love loses its influence and trust drifts away in a boat of anger. Fortunately, relational well-being flourishes in families, at work and church when mature followers of Jesus honor him by deferring to what’s best for others. Submit doesn’t mean defer responsibility, but rather a collaborative approach to doing life together.
Paul writes to followers of Jesus who live in a culture steeped in authoritative systems motivated by those in power to maintain control. Rich over poor, men over women, kings over subjects, masters over slaves. But Christ’s law of love and submission to one another blows up a society of exploitation, misogynists, dictators and tyrants. Preceding verse 21, Paul explains that only in the fullness of the Holy Spirit can individuals live out the command to submit to one another. The Spirit infuses humility, love, grace, mercy, truth and wisdom to create a climate of relational well-being. The Apostle goes on to apply submission and love to wives, husbands, and children.
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord…Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 5:22, 25, 6:1).
John Calvin, the famous French reformer of the 16th century, argues this idea of mutual submission (subjection), “There is a sense in which even parents are to be subject to their own children, as they serve them in love. When a husband lovingly bears the burdens of his wife, is that not subjection? When a father lovingly gives himself for his children, there is subjection. When we assist one another, it is servitude or subjection. Thus, there would seem to be a sense in which we all are mutually to submit to one another, without abandoning our roles of God-given authority. Thus, in our text Paul is saying, filled with the Spirit, believers’ relationships should be marked by joyful submission to one another out of the fear of Christ.” (John Calvin’s Sermons on Ephesians [Banner of Truth], p. 561).
Are you walking full of the Spirit, contributing to relational well-being, or have you taken the unhealthy road of holding another hostage by withdrawing and withholding? Be intentional to humble yourself, admit your wrong, apologize and ask forgiveness. Once you admit your wrong, you are not wrong anymore…what—can it be…not wrong anymore? Indeed, a humble heart of confession is free from the guilt of being wrong…a little wrong or a lot wrong. You can’t control the forgiveness of your friend, but you can rest in the sweet forgiveness of your loving heavenly Father. “Love keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13). Submit first to Christ in honor and love…then trust the fullness of the Holy Spirit to defer to those you love. Relational well-being comes when those who follow Jesus—submit to Jesus—and to each other.
“Submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:5-6).
Heavenly Father, humble my heart to first submit to you and then to others in my life, through Christ’s love and in Jesus’ name, amen.
What relationship am I holding hostage by withholding my love, words and intimacy? In humility go to them and say, “I’m sorry, please forgive me for letting you down.”
Jeremy Riddle: Purify My Heart
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