August 27, 2009

Building Each Other Up

Ephesians 5:21-33

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 5:21


We have observed this month that encouragement, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness are at the center of Paul’s teaching. Each of these focuses on serving someone beyond ourselves. That’s in line with what we are taught in the second great commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).

Love is at the heart of the Bible’s teaching on submission. Submission is not about just giving in to someone else’s wishes or obeying what someone else says. It runs much deeper than that. The kind of submission Paul is speaking of here is more closely related to love and respect, a willingness to seek the good of another and to recognize the worth of another person.

And being submissive is not a one-way street. Paul says clearly, “Submit to one another.” Biblical submission is mutual, wholesome, and loving. It is not a submission forced by a “because I said so” attitude. The practice of biblical submission is closely related to our own spiritual maturity. That is why Paul urges that we submit to one another “out of reverence for Christ.”

Perhaps you find the idea of being submissive difficult and in conflict with the spirit of our times. Maybe you think we should be “all we can be” as individuals. But submitting to one another and building each other up is the way Christ showed us how to live.

Teach us, Savior and Lord, the spiritual discipline of mutual submission. We desire to walk in your ways and to show our reverence for you. In your name we pray. Amen.

About the author — Peter Borgdorff

Dr. Peter Borgdorff has been a pastor and administrator in the Christian Reformed Church for 40 years, most recently serving as executive director till his retirement in 2006. He and his wife, Janet, have five children and 14 grandchildren.

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