“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” – Ephesians 5:21
In Sunday’s message we talked about the principle of mutual submission. This principle means that every member of the family should submit themselves to one another, not for the people in the family, but because of reverence for what Christ did for us. This principle actually applies to any relationship.
Paul tells us to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Jesus is our model. He came as a servant, submitting His whole life to those He served. Mark 10:45 tells us, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve.” So out of reverence for Christ, we too are to submit ourselves to one another.
The notion of submission bears no sense of inferiority. Contrary to what some people may think, the Bible is clear that men and women are equal in value. Men and women are equally created in the image of God (Genesis. 1:27). Men and women are given co-dominion over the earth (Genesis.1:28). In regards to salvation, there is no distinction between gender, age, or race (Galatians 3:28). And spiritual gifts are given equally to both genders (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).
How can there be a sense of inferiority if Christ is our model? No one is going to suggest that Jesus was inferior to those He came to serve. And it’s mutual submission He’s talking about, not the dominance of one over another.
So exactly how does that work? Let me give you a few examples. For wives that means working together with a husband, not toiling for a master, or seeking to overcome an adversary. For a husband, it will mean not dominating his wife, but sacrificing himself in order to serve the one who is joined to him in unity. For the child, it will mean obeying parents because God has placed them in families. For parents it will mean providing a loving environment where children will grow to independence, loving and serving Christ. For employees, it will mean serving our employers with enthusiasm and commitment, while for employers it will mean treating employees the way we’d like to be treated ourselves.
Mutual submission assumes that the other person in the relationship is of no less value than me. Mutual submission means saying through your actions and words that “I am here for you” and “How can I help you?” Mutual submission means being considerate of one another, caring for one another’s needs, being thoughtful of one another, and caring for one another in a way that puts the interests of the other party first. The byproducts of mutual submission are love, cooperation, loyalty, humility and respect.
The key to mutual submission is found in Ephesians 5, verses 18 and 21: “…be filled with the Spirit” and “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit living within us would help us to change our natural inclinations so we can be more Christ-like in our willingness to serve and to submit.
1. What do you think mutual submission looks like?
2. What does love have to do with mutual submission? What part does love play in your picture of mutual submission?
3. How does the world’s use of power and submission differ from God’s use? Should we use God or scriptures or guilt to make someone submissive?
4. What is one obstacle to practicing mutual submission? How can you overcome that obstacle?
5. In what relationship do you need to ask, “I am here for you” and “what can I do to help?”