What Will Help Us to Submit to Each Other?

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Ephesians 5:21

I suppose there are some people who find it easy to submit to others, but many of us struggle with the imperative to “submit to one another.” We want to be in charge. We want to call the shots. We want to be the leader, not the follower. So, what will help us do what Ephesians 5:21 commends? What will help us to submit to each other?

We can always answer a question like this by saying, “Because the Bible says so.” The Bible is God’s Word, the rightful authority for our faith and living. If Scripture says “submit to one another,” then we ought to do so. But, as is often the case, the Bible doesn’t simply give us commands to follow. Rather, it provides explanations and motivations. It answers the “why” and “how” questions as well as the “what” question.

Ephesians 5:21 tell us to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” There you have it: the rationale, the motivation. Out of reverence for Christ. What helps us to submit when we don’t want to? Reverence for Christ. What forms our hearts so that subordinating ourselves might come easier to us? Reverence for Christ.

If you were to read Ephesians 5:21 in the King James Version, you’d find, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” Indeed, the word translated in the NIV as “reverence” is phobos in Greek, the basic word for “fear.” Yet most all contemporary translations prefer “reverence” to “fear” (NIV, NLT, ESV, NRSV, REB). “Reverence” captures the subtlety of phobos, while rightly avoiding the sense of scariness.

We might paraphrase phobos as “awestruck reverence and deep respect” for Christ. The more we are overwhelmed by the grandeur of Christ, the more we will submit ourselves fully to him as his servants. This act of reverent submission to Christ will prime our souls to submit to each other. When we are on our knees together before our Lord, we’ll find it easier to remain on our knees in submission and service to one another.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you feel “awestruck reverence and deep respect” for Christ? What helps you to feel this way? How does your reverence for Christ make a difference in your relationships in your family? At work? In your community? Among members of your church?

PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, do I have “awestruck reverence and deep respect” for you? Sometimes I do, when I gaze upon the vast summer sky and realize you created it, when the reality of your sacrifice floods my soul as if I heard about it for the first time, when I gather with your people on Easter morning to celebrate that fact that you are risen, indeed.

Yet, Lord, as you know, there are other times, times when I let my familiarity with you overcome reverence, when I choose to sin even though I know it displeases you, when I let the truth that you are my friend obscure the fact that you are also my Lord and Master. Forgive me, I pray, for my lack of reverence.

May my reverence for you increase. As it does, may it also motivate my living, my dreams, my choices, my relationships. In particular, may reverence for you help me to offer myself in submission to others, following their leadership and serving them with humble love. Amen.


Designed to Work

“We are exploring together. We are cultivating a garden together, backs to the sun. The question is a hoe in our hands and we are digging beneath the hard and crusty surface to the rich humus of our lives.” Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation.

Work is not a curse. Before the Fall, God placed Adam and Eve in the garden and invited them to participate with him by cultivating the earth and tilling the soil and coaxing seedlings to find the sun. Our work is one way we participate in restoration. We were designed to work, and our good work is worship. In the series, Designed to Work, we'll explore together and celebrate the gift of work, given to us by a God who loves us deeply.

Featured image by Angie Green. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.