by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” (Ephesians 5:21)
Normally in today’s world we are told to strive for the top. Desire to be “Number 1” overshadows the biblical injunction of submission. But when we are truly in a right relationship with God, we will be submitting to one another. Christ taught that servanthood was of much greater value in the eyes of God than mastery.
We all know too many examples of churches that have been split by conflicts arising from selfishness among the believers or an unwillingness to serve. “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (James 4:1). A Spirit-filled Christian (Ephesians 5:18) desires to submit and serve rather than to assert and rule.
The same thought is reflected throughout Scripture: “Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). “Obey them [i.e., spiritual leaders] that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls” (Hebrews 13:17). We must also submit to “every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13).
The word “submit” is a translation of two Greek words meaning “to line up under.” It usually reflects a military hierarchy, “to rank lower than.” Our goal, therefore, should be to place others above ourselves and to be in submission to and in service of them.
This attitude, of course, was the attitude that Christ exhibited as He left heaven to come and serve, and die, who “took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). JDM