It’s All About ME
[Inside: Why we should submit to each other.]
It’s August. The sun is shining, the pool is sparkling, the lake is calling, and the kids have been home now for 8 weeks… (but who’s counting?!) For the most part it’s been wonderful. The schedule has been relaxed, there is no lunch making, or homework checking… it’s OK if the laundry doesn’t get done exactly on time because, there’s no school uniforms to wash for Monday morning. We have taken trips to local attractions in our city as if we were tourists coming here for the first time.
But as we get into August, the bickering seems to bubble up a little more than usual. We all are not getting the ‘alone time’ we are used to. We are with each other ALL THE TIME. And that, my friends, can be a two edged sword. During January and February I long for the sunny days where we are all together hanging out on the deck, swimming and grilling and doing nothing… and suddenly, out of the blue, sometime around August, I feel like if the people in my house don’t leave me alone for a while, I am going to lose it. (Please tell me there is at least one other mom out there who gets this. I can’t be alone in my feelings, can I?)
I get a little selfish. I want everyone to live on my schedule. I want them to be able to read my mind, and sense when
I need some space, and when I need to snuggle on the couch and watch a movie. My focus turns a little (or a lot) from “Us and We” to “Me! Me! Me!”
And while a little time away from the family refreshes our energy and encourages our souls to be better wives, moms, and grandmothers… I think a little council from Paul might do this mom some good during the dog days of summer.
Paul teaches us how to behave in the most intimate of our relationships on earth, the relationships in our homes, and in our workplaces. Where the majority of our time is spent and our guards are let down and we are our real selves, like it or not. In the places where we come face to face with the ordinary, the messy, the revealing, the emotional, the imperfect. It is our greatest and most important mission field. It is the place where we will have the most impact for the Kingdom through our legacy, as well as through the example others see in us through our words and deeds.
Paul tells us to “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21
What?! What does that even mean?
The Meaning of Submission
When we submit to others, it can be helpful to keep these things in mind.
- Submission helps maintain unity in our families, workplaces and churches.
- We submit to others as a way of being kind, tenderhearted and forgiving.
- It’s OK to be angry, just don’t sin in your anger.
- We submit to be different than other families, wives or coworkers. Our submission to others is a way to be a light to those who don’t know Jesus.
And all of this should be done because we love and respect the Lord… not necessarily because we feel it. (Because clearly, in August, I am NOT feeling it.)
Now, I think the word submit has really gotten a bad wrap. Some women get a little bristled when they hear Paul specifically tell the wives to submit to their husbands. But the good news is, he’s telling ALL of us to submit to one another as well as to Christ.
So, let’s take a look at what the word submit really means: Meriam Webster says the definition is :
“to yield oneself to the authority or will of another or to defer to or consent to abide by the opinion or authority of another”
In The Message version, the verse reads,
“Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.”
That’s another way to think of submitting to each other; Being courteously reverent, or respectful.
OK, now that we know what submit IS, let’s take a look at what it ISN’T.
Submission is NOT:
- agreeing about everything
- never getting angry
- not thinking for yourself
- abdicating your opinions or influence to someone else
- trading God’s truth or strength in for a human being
- living in fear
- deciding to stop using your gifts in service of God
God never told us to quit being the women he has designed us to be or gifted us to be in deference to submission to a human being. We know he has given us all spiritual gifts, talents, preferences, and ultimately assignments here on earth.
We can accomplish our Godly purposes and still submit to one another; we can be courteously reverent. Or even, defer to someone else’s opinions or preferences; and still be intelligent, effective servants of Jesus Christ in our homes and workplaces.
We must submit our words, emotions, attitudes, our rights to Christ. If we are living for Him, then they don’t really belong to us in the first place, they belong to HIM. How unfair that seems sometimes. Don’t I have the right to say what I want to say when I want to say it? Don’t I have the right to get my frustrations out too? Why do I have to control myself? Why do I have to be different?
Because God told us to. We are supposed to be like Christ. To love like he loves. To sacrifice like he sacrifices.
OUT OF REVERENCE FOR CHRIST. We act differently than the world, because we are ultimately serving God. And if that means we have to sacrifice, or put to death, our will, our tongue, our impulse, our pride, our entitlement, our attitude or our emotions, then that’s what we have to do; In service to the Lord; In worship to the Lord. This is our testimony. This is how we share the love of Jesus with our families and with the world. The Bible tells us this again and again, here’s just a couple:
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk from your lips. Prov. 4:23-24
The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them. Proverbs 14:1, 3
How to Submit
So the question then it HOW. How do we submit to one another? Clearly, this submission thing really is all about me. It’s about my attitudes, my emotions, my words, my self-control, my heart.
Paul tells us that we are to submit to one another. Period. There’s no qualifier. There’s no exception. He doesn’t say, “Submit to those who treat you fairly. Submit to those who are easy to love or to those who respect you. Submit to those who submit to you.”
Should we all be submitting one to another? Yes, we should, according to Paul. But do we always? I am afraid not. Regardless, I am still commanded to submit. I can’t control anyone else’s behavior except my own. I am not in charge of anyone else’s spiritual life, except my own. Not even those who are closest to me.
So, really it is all about me. And all about you. How are we fulfilling God’s command? How do we do it? Well, God never said we had to do it alone. Obviously, we can’t do it on our own. I have tried, and I have failed. Like Paul says,
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Romans 7:15,
The beauty of being a child of God is that we have the Holy Spirit to help us. To remind us. To give us that extra measure of patience when we need it.
“God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing.” Ephesians1:3
God has given us a divine nature. He has given us the capacity to live a righteous life (a life that is right with God.) We have to choose this life over our evil desires. We have the capacity to be faithful and obedient to our calling. We have it in us, because HE gave it to us.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3
God says, “You can do this. You have it in you.” And we do have it in us. We have the Holy Spirit in us.
So dig deep fellow women of God. We can do this. We can take a few minutes to recharge ourselves and whisper a prayer of help, alone, in our bathrooms with the door locked. And then… join the family, remember the joy, speak words of grace, submit even when we don’t feel like it, and remember… it’s NOT all about me. It’s all about HIM.
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But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17-18
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