Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:6-7.

Mutual submission – what does it mean and better yet, how can I apply it in my life? In simple terms, mutual submission means “I’m going to leverage my resources, my time, my talent, etc. for your benefit.” Regardless of who we are or what role we have, this is God’s standard for relationships. So what is it all about and how do I go about doing that?

This question will help: ”What can I do to help?” This is a game changer, especially if everyone in the family adopts this mindset. Stop for moment for this mental picture: one of your kids comes up to you and says, “Hey Mom, hey Dad, what can I do to help?” Your immediate thought is, “who is this kid, and what have you done with my son?” After the initial shock, you smile. You look at your wife who has accidentally swallowed her gum. You decide there is hope for the world after your generation is gone after all. You decide to try it and ask your son or daughter, “What can I do to help?” For the first time in years, they turn off their electronic devices and you have their rapt attention. For the first time in a long time you are communicating. Wow.

Then conjure up a mental picture of wives, rather than being unintentionally critical, and ask, “what can I do to help?” Suddenly, the husband drops his remote control and by doing so turns off the football game in the middle of the biggest comeback in collegiate history. By asking that question, you are telling your husband that “I am aware of your responsibility, the burden you carry.” It tells him that you value, affirm, and respect him. If the husband asked the wife the same question, she would be no less surprised. She may look a little closer and then ask quietly, “we have been married for 17 years and I don’t know you.” But when you ask that question, you are telling her that you are here for her, that you love and appreciate her. If you make a habit of asking the question, she will feel secure, cared for and cherished.

The reason we don’t submit and our relationships are not as healthy as they could be is because of fear. We are afraid of the answer. Or we are afraid someone is going to take advantage of us or we won’t be king of the castle anymore. We are afraid it will cost us time, resources, prestige and maybe even jeopardize the good thing we have going on. We are afraid it will cost us something, so why risk it if the status quo is fine already.

Ephesians 5:21 gives us the answer: “And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Paul, in that context, is telling us, “out of reverence for Christ, open yourself up to help others, and yes they may take advantage of you, and yes you’ll have to put someone else first, and yes it will cost you.”  But it will not cost you your life as it did Jesus.  And Jesus is the model of mutual submission.

Discussion Questions:

  1. In marriage, what does mutual submission look like? What part do you play in that?
  2. What is the difference between obedience and submission?
  3. What can we do this week to practice mutual submission?