Spiritual Discipline // SUBMISSION
By James Gerber
When it comes to understanding the scriptures, Isaac reminded us on Sunday that rather than isolating a single passage of scripture, zooming out to get the whole picture really matters. In reference to 1 Timothy 2:11–14 Isaac said this:
“It can be tempting to start and stop with this scripture and think we are being biblical. But, all biblical reading is a form of interpretation. We need to interpret this scripture with other scriptures.”-Isaac Hovet
All too often we are nearsighted about the scripture. The mistake of not stepping back to see more, leaves us in a myopic stupor, heels dug in, fists clenched, unwilling to see things from a different perspective.
Let me show you how this can play out.
When I was in my early 20’s I met the love of my life, Ashley. Fast forward almost 18 years and 5 kids, she is still the love of my life. It hasn’t always been easy, and working through our differences in preferences and opinions has been at times, downright frustrating.
As I look back to the early parts of our marriage I can attribute most of our troubles to a misunderstanding of what the scripture calls mutual submission. In fact, I was pretty familiar with submission, just not the mutual part.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, and I’m not even sure where or how I picked this up, I had clung to the idea that in marriage we both got to make decisions, but in big decisions, or ones where there was gray area or uncertainty, my vote had just a little more weight. In fact, my vote was actually the tie breaker. To take it one step further, even if we couldn’t agree, I got the final say. Why? Well of course, because I was a man. Duh!
How did this even become a mindset for me? Well somewhere along the way I clung on to and hyper focused my attention on one verse in Ephesians 5:22-Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.
Is the verse true? Should wives submit to their husbands? Well…the short answer is actually YES.
HOWEVER, I was looking so close at that verse I missed what the whole of scriptures says. I was even missing what the verses right around this verse say.
Like Isaac mentioned on Sunday we need to zoom out.
When we zoom out we see that the scriptures also say husbands need to submit to their wives out of reverence to Christ (Ephesians 5:28). We zoom out a little further and we see that mutual submission to all people is a defining marker of anyone who calls themselves a follower of Jesus. And yet again we zoom out to find that the ultimate authority is God, and EVERYONE submits to each other out of reverence to Christ! (Ephesians 5:21, John 15:3)
When we get too focused on ourselves we buy into the illusion that we’re in control. We buy into the illusion that to lord over and subjugate others will satisfy and fulfill us. Unfortunately, we end up putting ourselves into a prison of dissatisfaction and frustration in which we chase the fulfillment of our own desires over the more pressing commandment of loving God and loving others. (Mark 12:30-31).
We are called to be people who demonstrate the love of Jesus, carrying it everywhere we go, and it turns out that submission is actually the key. But, submission doesn’t just come naturally to us.
This is why we need to practice submission. Here is what Richard J. Foster says about the spiritual discipline of submission:
“Every Discipline has its corresponding freedom. What freedom corresponds to submission? It is the ability to lay down the terrible burden of always needing to get our own way. The obsession to demand that things go the way we want them to go is one of the greatest bondages in human society today. People will spend weeks, months, even years in a perpetual stew because some little thing did not go as they wished. They will fuss and fume. They will get mad about it. They will act as if their very life hangs on the issue. They may even get an ulcer over it.”-Richard J. Foster. “Celebration of Discipline.”
WOW. Eye opening. If you didn’t catch it, let me repeat this line about what submission is. Submission is the ability to lay down the terrible burden of always needing to get our own way.
Do you ever lay down for bed and replay the day frustrated at a boss, co-worker, spouse or friend who did something differently than the way you would have liked it to be done? Lost sleep over it? Replayed it in your mind over and over again? We can actually experience freedom from this bondage, through submission.
1. Think through your last week or two and recall hard interactions. Jot them down.
2. Ask yourself, were those interactions frustrating because one of you was fighting to get their own way?
3. Pray. Ask the Lord to change YOU. Not them, but YOU. Say out loud to the Lord, “Help me to be okay with not getting my own way.” Echo the prayer of Jesus in the Garden, “Not MY will but YOUR will be done.”