Have you ever heard the phrase: “That was a well-kept secret”? Secrets contain some type of information that is hidden or concealed. It may be purposely hidden, but it may also be information of which one is simply unaware. As I have pondered the subject of submission in the Christian life, often it seems as though the truth about submission is a “well-kept secret.” Few people speak of it. Maybe even fewer really understand it.
The Bible, however, frequently refers to the truth about submission. God’s people were never to be a rebellious nor arrogant people. They are to be a submissive and obedient people. Their first and most important submission is to God Himself. He is the LORD God! And it is He who instructs us to humbly submit to others as He has directed … believers to governing authorities, servants (workers) to masters (bosses), younger to elders in the church, and wives to husbands. Again, God’s people were never to be an arrogant and rebellious, nor disrespectful, people.
Because we are believers in Christ, we must walk in submission in every area where the Lord instructs. And we must walk there because we are submitted to Him! That means we must walk in submission to all that He has placed in authority … governing authorities, bosses, elders and pastors, and (because I am a married woman) to my own husband.
The walk of submission is neither easy, nor instantaneous. It is not easy because it brings us face to face with our self and our own will, and it is there where we will struggle. Submission is not instantaneous because it is something we must learn. We are not born with a submissive heart. It is a part of the new person that we are in Christ, as we are being renewed in His image.
As a Christian woman (if married), a part of being renewed in Christ’s image is being submitted to our own husband. Remember, God’s people were never to be rebellious, arrogant, nor disrespectful. Also remember, this walk is neither easy nor instantaneous. It must be learned.
First, let us be sure we understand the biblical meaning of submission.
Submission means: to arrange under in an orderly fashion.
There are several important ideas incorporated in the meaning of submission. It is a word of order … It is also an action that we ourselves take, a willing arranging of our selves … It is a willing arranging of ourselves under … a willing arrangement of ourselves in an orderly fashion under the authority that God Himself has instructed. Take time to ponder these truths.
I humbly share one of the “secrets” about submission that I have learned through the years. Colossians 3:18 instructs:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
What does it mean: as is fitting in the Lord?
It means: as is proper or as is becoming in the Lord.
Yes, submission to our own husband is fitting and proper in the Lord. Now, I readily admit that I deeply understand the heart struggles a wife faces as she attempts to walk in this truth. So often we start in the wrong place. We start with ourselves and what we want or don’t want, or we start with our husbands, listing all the reasons that we cannot submit to him.
To walk in submission, we must begin in the right place, and that place is with the Lord. This verse is set in the context of Colossians 3 … if then you are risen with Christ … and putting on the new man (person) you are in Christ … being renewed in His image! Then a list is given of this new “wardrobe” that we should be wearing. All of these truths are given to us first … before we are ever instructed to submit to our own husbands.
So, here is the “secret” that I have learned. I must be wearing the appropriate “wardrobe” before I will ever be able to submit to my husband. I must humbly and honestly ask the Lord to search my heart:
Do I have a heart of compassion toward my husband?
Do I seek to do kind and beneficial things for him?
Do I walk in humility or do I let pride, arrogance, or disrespect creep in?
Do I walk in gentleness and meekness toward my husband?
Am I patient and longsuffering with him?
Do I bear with him?
Do I forgive him when I have a complaint against him, as the Lord forgave me?
Do I put on love toward him?
Tough questions! When I am struggling with submission, I always know my heart toward my husband is not right! What I learned was that I need my heart renewed in the image of my Lord, and then I am able to submit to my own husband … as is fitting in the Lord. True submission flows from a heart renewed in the image of Christ!
I am convinced that the truth about submission is not meant to be a “well-kept secret.” It is meant to be learned. It is meant to be lived out. It is meant to be shared with other Christian women. And it is meant to bring glory to our Lord!
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Colossians 3:18