As we examine and learn about the life of Jesus Christ, we see that his willingness to serve had roots in his confidence that God loved him. Jesus found strength and assurance in knowing how important he was to his Father. This knowledge of his Father’s love enabled Jesus to serve people and ultimately demonstrate the greatest form of submission – his death on the cross. The cross has since become the symbol of both submission and freedom to Christians around the world.
Throughout the Bible God teaches us about submission, yet there are many misconceptions about this topic. Some feel that this discipline is mainly reserved for married couples and children, or people of lesser rank or status. Also, a deficient teaching and understanding on the topic of submission has manipulated, suppressed and even destroyed many people throughout the world.
The discipline of submission, and its consequence of freedom, is for all Christians. Submission is about our recognition that we need God, our realistic evaluation of our abilities, and our humble willingness to serve.
Please read 1 Peter 5:5-7
- What comes to mind when you hear the word “submission”?
- In your own words, what does submission mean? (Attitudes, actions, etc.) What is submission not?
- What value does our society place on submission? How is God’s view different?
- We read in verses 6 and 7: “If you will humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, in his good time he will lift you up. Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.”
- How does submission to God bring us freedom? Have you thought about this concept before, that is, that submission is a way to freedom? Read John 8 30-36.
Jesus said to the disciples, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who keeps his life for himself shall lose it; and anyone who loses his life for me shall find it again.” Matthew 16:24–25 (The Living Bible)
Please read Philippians 2: 1-11
- After carefully reading the above passage, how has Jesus exemplified submission and humility?
- In verse 3 we read: “Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself.” (The Living Bible)
- Why do we tend to value and desire praise from our peers more than recognition and praise from God?
A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none.
A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.
— Martin Luther
How can we keep a balance between cultivating a submissive, humble attitude, and recognizing our priceless value in God’s sight? Why is it important to keep that balance?
Ephesians 5:21 says simply: “Honor Christ by submitting to each other.” How do you plan to demonstrate a healthy spirit of submission this week in your relationships with others?
Challenge for growth
- Consider your relationship with God. Are there areas in your life that you have not yet submitted to God?
- Do you recognize your need for God, especially in areas where you are successful? If so, thank God for it. If not, ask God to give you a greater awareness of your need for him in your life.
- Think of your strengths and weaknesses. You might want to list ten of each on a piece of paper. How are you using your strengths to serve God? How are you planning to develop strength from your weaknesses?
- Think of ways, places, or opportunities you would like to serve. Take a step forward this week and consider serving in one of these areas.
- Consider further study on submission, as there are many more aspects and scriptures dealing with this topic.
The Spirit of the Disciplines – Dallas Willard
Celebration of Discipline – Richard Foster
The Living Bible
The Busy Christian’s Guide to Experiencing God More – William Watkins