Friday, April 11, 2014

Active Submission

My congregation is doing a marriage class on Sunday mornings.  One day, our teacher said something that impacted me a lot.  He told the husbands that if they want to understand how hard it is for their wives to submit to them, they only need to think about how hard it is for they themselves to submit to God.  I appreciated his comment right off because it made me feel better about my struggles with submission.  It's not just that I'm an outspoken shrew of a woman.  I'm human, and humans have a hard time with submitting.  As time went on, I began to see the importance of the parallel between our submission to our heavenly Father and to our earthly husbands.  

What image does the world have when they think of submission?  The picture is a passive one, anything from a woman sitting still with her hands meekly folded all the way to an all out doormat.  Is that how we see submission to God?  Do we sit around doing nothing?  Sometimes perhaps when we are waiting.  But in general, submitting to God is a more active enterprise, carrying the idea of obedience.  Paul's picture of an obedient Christian looks a lot more like a runner than a doormat.

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-14).
Peter also speaks of submission, and he says that we wives should be obedient like Sarah. 
For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands;  just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear (1 Peter 3:5-6).
Looking at Sarah's life, I don't see much of passivity in her.  When the three men came to tell Abraham that he would have another son in one year's time, Abraham told his wife to prepare bread cakes from three measures of flour.  That's not three cups.  Three measures was around a bushel of flour!  That's over 100 cups!  Sarah obeyed her husband.  Can you see the woman in her tent, flour up to her elbows?  Active indeed!

Even the promised son that she waited for required some action on her part.  At 90, sex may have been the furthest thing from her mind, but if she sat around waiting for immaculate conception, Isaac might never have been born!  She couldn't control whether or not she conceived (or she would have had children much sooner), but she could submit to God and her husband and do what it took for the promise to be fulfilled.

Before Sarah was blessed with a son, she did try to take matters into her own hands.  Not content to wait on the promise of God, she gave her handmaiden to Abraham to bear a son for her.  The results of that ill conceived plan were strife for her entire household.  In other words, submission is not ONLY action, it is the proper action at the proper time.

Thankfully, God gave us his instruction manual with all we need to know how to obey him in full submission.  It may be hard to do, but it isn't usually hard to understand.  God communicates with us well.  Our husbands may be another story.  If submitting to our husbands includes obedient action, we first have to know what their expectations are.  So I encourage all you wives out there to talk to your husbands.  Ask them how well you are submitting.  Find out what they want, and then take action to get there.

When you think of being a woman of God, submitting to the Lord and to your husband, what do you picture?  We should have an image of a woman like Paul describes in 1 Timothy.

having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints' feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work (1 Timothy 5:10).
These are the kind of widows who can go on the list to be helped by the church, women who have been far from passive.  They are the kind of women we should strive to be.


Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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