Let me begin this article by saying submission is not a dirty word!
I repeat, submission is not a dirty word!
And it should never be used to overpower anyone’s free will, but instead be used to connect you and I to the unfailing promises of God.
For so long, people cringed at the thought of submission because for years so many legalistic Christians used submission as a way to manipulate and control brothers and sisters in Christ. As a result, even today people still shy away from the concept. And if you are talking to a group of wives about submission, you can almost be assured that even if no one is saying it, they are probably all cringing in their seats. Why? Because they have not been made to see and comprehend the beauty and blessings behind this wonderful concept.
Let me first say that submission is a mindset—a lifestyle—more than it is a behavior. Although the display of a pure and submitted heart should be reflected in our actions, actions alone are not enough to determine whether or not someone is submissive. The real mark of submission is in the heart, and the real test of submission is obedience to God.
I cannot tell you the number of people who are so deceived into thinking submission has a look, that they totally forget that submission is a heart issue. It’s not about the outward appearance as we have been made to believe for years. It’s about your intangible and internal motives. The Bible tells us that man looks at the outward appearance, while God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7) — meaning people are more likely to be pleased with something that looks like submission than they are actual submission, while God is more pleased with a heart that is truly submitted to Him than He is with how things appear before men. This article is about the heart of submission, more than it is about the appearance of submission.
The heart of submission exists and operates with a single motive—to please God. It has no other motive or reason for doing what it does. God alone is in the center of all its thoughts and actions.
The reality is that although submission is most prevalently used to describe a wife’s relationship with her husband, submission is not gender exclusive — it applies to both men and women — and should be a reality in the life of every Believer. As Christians, submission to Lord, His Word and His standard of righteousness, is our primary responsibility. This is universal, and it is essential that we understand this piece before we move into the secondary arena of submission — submission to the authority God placed in the Earth.
Over the years, I have noticed that many people, women especially, often spend more time trying to submit to the authority God has placed in the Earth (secondary authority) than they do actually submitting to God, which is our first or primary responsibility.
When we take the time necessary to study the Word of God, familiarizing ourselves with its precepts, and are able to successfully to submit to it, then we are empowered to skillfully and intentionally respond to the authority God has placed in the Earth (our husbands, employers, etc.) In fact, when we become totally focused on our primary submission, secondary submission becomes not only effortless, but enjoyable.
If you are in the group Secret Wives Society on FaceBook, you will remember that I defined submission in the simplest form as, wanting and preferring the will of God more than you want or prefer anything else. This means that I make a quality decision to study my Word so that I can become fully aware of what God said and what He wants — and once I do that, then I begin to want what He wants more than I want anything else. I want it more than I want to be right; more than I want to have my own way — almost more than I want to breathe! This means that I make a solid decision to live my daily life in a way that allows the Word of God to supersede and dominate everything area of my life. This means that if/when there is a challenge between what I believe or want and what the Word says God wants, that the Word wins, every time. Like Jesus, it basically means that I lay down all aspects of my life and will to what thus saith the Lord.
Now, even with my making this decision, that doesn’t mean that there will not be times when I am challenged in my mind and body to disobey – this is life, and we will be challenged; however, it does mean that those challenges will not stop me from obeying God and doing the things that are pleasing in His sight.
Let me give you an example. Let’s look at Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane:
“Then Jesus came with them to a place called [a]Gethsemane (olive-press), and He told His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” And taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee [James and John], He began to be grieved and greatly distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, so that I am almost dying of sorrow. Stay here and stay awake and keep watch with Me.” And after going a little farther, He fell face down and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible [that is, consistent with Your will], let this cup] pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” … He went away a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.”
This is a noted account of Jesus just before His death and at a time in His life where He, like many of us, was struggling to obey God. He was struggling to submit His will to the will of the Father; however even being wrecked with pain, Jesus said, “Not my will, but your will be done Father.”
Think for a moment with me about how agonizing this must have been for Jesus. After all, even though He was God, He was also a man and subject to the same physical pangs as you and I. Imagine how much fortitude it took for Him to say, even in the midst of all this physical pain, Lord I will still put myself aside based on nothing more than your Word. Imagine how submitted He had to be in order to be willing to lay down his very life, unto death, just because that was what was pleasing to the Father. My God!
Now fast forward to where you and I are now, and let’s just praise God that He is not asking us to be physically crucified just to be pleasing in His sight. However, He has asked us to pick up our cross and follow Him daily in the same manner as Jesus. That means we will have to do some dying to self as well—dying to our thoughts, plans, wants and purposes—so that we can live in and for Him!
This is where our commitment to the Word and living a life of submission comes in. In relation to all Jesus had to endure, all God is requiring of us is that we do what He has instructed us to do in His Word. And yes, He knew it would not always be easy or even pleasurable all the time, but that is why we have to always compare our submission to Jesus knowing that He set the standard for complete and total obedience to God on the cross; and as a result, He is now seated at the right hand of the Father. My God that is where obedience places us!
Now, let’s discuss how our primary submission should give birth to our next or secondary level of submission, which is submission to the authority God has placed in the Earth.
Because I minister to mostly women, I am going to approach this subject from a woman’s perspective. When we, as woman, take the time to become grounded in our primary submission to God, it becomes easier to submit to the various levels of submission God requires of us. And this is because, the more we submit to God the more we learn to trust Him and His judgement, eventually understanding that His commandments are not grievous and that anything He tells us to do is surely for our own good and eternal benefit.
It is focusing on our primary submission to God that empowers us to understand the character of God. It is during this process that we learn to trust that He is in control of and stands behind the outcome of any directive He has given. For example, one of the first things I came to understand about submission as a wife was that submission is not something that originated in the mind of my husband or even the world. It is not their idea — it’s God’s idea! So taking into the highest account the One (God) who asked me to submit, more than I take into account the person I am submitting to (my husband), I can now look at this thing through a God-lens versus and man-made lens. Since God asked me to submit and I trust that He (God) is faithful, I can basically trust that He is asking me to do this for a Kingdom reason and that at the end of my obedience are great and wonderful blessings. I don’t know about you, but just the idea of God’s blessings was enough to make me rejoice. I was so excited and counted His asking me to submit an honor!
In mind, He was trying to bless me, not make me a pedestal like world tried to make me believe. In my mind, He was trying to mold me into the mirror image of Christ by giving me intimate insight into the source of Jesus’ Earthly power — submission!
For the Christian, submission is exclusively limited to and predicated on our relationship with Christ. Defining submission in any other means outside of this, will never give birth to a full understanding of this subject.
I don’t know about you, but as a daughter of God and a wife, more than anything I desire to be pleasing to God so submission to His will (His Word) is just something that I am committed to no matter what is going on around me. I also refuse to allow fear to cause me to think I will be taken advantage of by obeying God because I know my God stands behind the outcome of any directive He gives me. I have learned to trust Him that much!