Scripture Reading: Ephesians 5:15-21

“Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)

When we are filled with the Holy Spirit (v. 18), we will desire to be humble and submissive toward other people. Our basic problem is that we are born with a sinful, selfish nature. In our passage today, we are told not to be selfish. We must be subject to one another. When we are, we are honoring our Savior.

Verses 15-21 is an introductory paragraph that proceeds instructions about marriage (5:22-33), parenting (6:1-4), and work relationships (6:5-9). The instructions in verse 21 — “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” — applies to all our relationships. First and foremost, it applies to our relationship with Christ. We must recognize Jesus Christ as Lord before we can be subject to other people. Wives are to be subject to their husbands (v. 22-24). Husbands are to love their wives (v. 25). In I Corinthians 13 we are told that “love does not seek its own.” Children are to obey their parents (6:1). Parents are not to provoke their children to anger (6:4). All of these involve being submissive to one another.

Submission is an attitude of the heart. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). The more I die to self, the more fully the Lord Jesus is able to live His life in me. We must take ourselves off the throne of our lives and give Jesus His proper place as Lord. When we do this, we will desire to obey Him and will be eager to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

What does the idea of submission mean practically? It means we are not to be thoughtless of each other. We are not to be selfish and self-centered. It means we view ourselves as we are — sinners who have failed God. Yet, God has poured out His grace upon us in Jesus Christ. Therefore, we are to be gracious to others. It means we develop a love and concern for other people. We must be patient and understanding of them.

The real reason for mutual submission is that we do it out of reverence for Christ. Christ submitted Himself to death for our sake. Out of our love, gratitude, and reverence for Him, we are to submit to each other willingly and graciously.

Lord Jesus, You submitted Yourself to Your Father’s will. You gave Yourself for me. Grant me grace to be humble and gracious. Enable me to submit to others out of reverence for You.


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