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Submitting to One Anotherby Duane Mabee on July 7, 2022
The last “one-another” command we’re going to address for awhile is found in Ephesians 5:21 – submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. You will observe that the verse isn’t written in a command form. That’s because the primary command of the passage is found in verse 18 keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit. That’s the command. But one of the primary results of being filled with the Spirit is that we will submit to one another. The rest of the passage, Eph. 5:22-6:9 is Paul’s explanation of what Spirit filled submitting to one another looks like in our families and on our jobs. I encourage you to read the passage with that perspective this week and see how that shapes your understanding of it.
Submitting to one another looks like self-sacrificing love and humble obedience, neither of which sound like something we want to do, nor have we seen many good examples of either.
Mutual submission can only happen in the context of self-sacrificing love. People must feel loved and cared for before they will be willing to risk submitting. They must trust the faithfulness of the one to whom they are asked to submit. They must be confident that the person will never abuse their power or manipulate them to get their own way.
Mutual submission also requires humility, which Paul says is evidenced through obedience, respect and honor. We despise the idea of submission and obedience, but God doesn’t. In Philippians 2, God exalted Jesus because of His voluntary submission and obedience. Those attributes are central to Who Jesus is and what He accomplished, so they will also be central to every Spirit filled life.
Respect and honor are also a necessary part of mutual submission, and again, they are modeled for us in Jesus. He honored all kinds of people, His mother, John the Baptist, the Roman Centurion, even Levi the tax collector. Respect treats other people as valuable. Respect focuses on what is right and good about them, while honor publishes it. The Spirit filled person will consistently express respect and honor for and to other people.
Spirit filled people will not be marked by an attitude of “I’m going to do what I want to do, and everybody else will just have to get over it”. That doesn’t square with Philippians 2, and it doesn’t look like Jesus. Spirit filled people will always be people of mutual submission, sacrificial love, obedience, honor and respect, and it will show in all of their relationships. That is convicting because it is so counter to what comes naturally for us. That’s why it is such glowing evidence of the presence of Christ’s Spirit within.