What Is Submission?
Just hearing the word can stir up strong emotions and make us uncomfortable. You know, the dreaded “s” word. Are you ready for it? Submit.
Popularly speaking, when people use the word submit, they often mean to honor or serve another person, especially in a way that requires self-denial. Given this understanding, a tension becomes clear: we want to honor others, but we know it is going to cost us something.
We know we ought to honor one another, and we want to honor others. Romans 12:10 tells us to “Outdo one another in showing honor.” 1 Peter 2:17 tells us to “Honor everyone,” and to “Honor the emperor.” Jesus taught in Matthew 22:37-40 that all of the Law and Prophets are summarized in the command to love God with our whole beings, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. How exactly that looks may vary from one situation to the next, but the point is this: we have a responsibility to love others in a way that often requires us to lay down our preferences and yield to the other for their good.
Jesus is our example
Jesus Himself is the ultimate example of this. Mark 10:45 says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” John 13 recounts how Jesus took the posture of a servant by washing His disciples’ feet, leaving us an example of humble service to others. And Philippians 2 tells us that Jesus took the form of a servant and humbled Himself, even to the point of His shameful death on a cross.
Just as humbling Himself to serve others cost Jesus, we know that humbling ourselves to serve others will cost us as well. If we let others go first, we may have to wait or even go without. If I give to you, I will have less for myself. If I defer and let you have things your way, I may not get things my way. But as we practice this, we follow the example of Jesus and position ourselves to receive from Jesus.
Freedom in Jesus
The reality is that Jesus is a far better Lord for us than we are for ourselves. As we yield our own preferences and practice self-denial for the sake of others, we experience a freeness from our own tyrannical wills as God’s will becomes ours.
In the following weeks, we will explore various relationships where we see this kind of self-denial for the sake of others. For now, know that as followers of Jesus, others have a claim on our lives in one way or another, and that as we humbly surrender our own wills for the good of another, we find we are freed from our own selfish ways to experience the freedom of Jesus.