The Discipline of Submission is the third Outward Discipline.Back to top
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” -- Mark 12:29-31
The Discipline of Submission is about the releasing of your Rights, Privileges, and Authority, and ceding them to another. It is living out the second-greatest commandment, by elevating the needs of another above your own.
The first step to Submission is self-denial. We need to crucify our need to assert our selves, before we can understand how to submit.
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” -- Mark 8:34-38
An essential part of Submission is the recognition that we are not an isolated "island" that can do what we want, but are part of a whole, and to be truly effective at what we are to be, we need to work together, and that means respecting others and working WITH them, which normally means we can't think of just our self.Back to top
One thing to remember is that every Discipline comes with the Freedoms that it produces, and these Freedoms are to bring us closer to God. One major Freedom that comes from Submission is the Freedom to be able to put down the burden of needing to get our own way, the need to "be right".
Submission means that even if we "feel" we are right, sometimes we defer (Submit) to someone else idea/opinion, even if we think they are wrong because we don't "need" to be right.
Foster points out that a lot of division comes because people refuse to give up "being right" thinking the issue seems important when in actuality it isn't.
A part of giving up the "need to be right" is giving up the "need to repay a wrong". Jesus tells us that revenge is not something for us to seek, but to trust that God will ultimately make the righteous judgment in the matter. This
But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
-- Matthew 5:39-44
(Aside:) One thing that comes to mind as worth pointing out for those that are perhaps a bit "intellectual", is that just because one thing is "right" doesn't make the alternative to it "wrong", there can be many "right" answers to a situation, and "better" or "best" can be subjective to the point of view. Since we don't fully understand God, and it is HIS point of view that actually matters, we can't be sure we know "better" or "best". Also, sometimes what seems "wrong" might actually be God's preferred path, as it teaches an important principle. Small "safe" failures are what help to develop wisdom.
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Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment.
What it isn't
Submission can be a very misunderstood concept. Let us first see what it isn't
Submission isn't about thinking of ourselves as unimportant, and others as more important, for God values us for who we are.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
-- Matthew 18:1-4
Submitting to another is not a decision that they are in some way "better" than you, or that you aren't right, but is a decision to control over to another.
Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.
Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.
-- Colossians 3:22-4:1
Submission isn't just "giving in" to a "more powerful" person because you feel you have to as you don't have a good alternative. "Obedience" is easy if you don't think you have a choice. But Submission isn't just acting in obedience to another but is a CHOOSING to yield to them. In the above passage, Paul spends a lot of words talking to the weaker side of the Master-Slave relationship, as while it is "easy" for the slave to obey their master (as the consequences of not are large), it can be much harder to have the right heart in doing so, and against our human nature to do so. While for the stronger side, it can be much clearer what needs to be done, as it becomes fairly obvious.
Also, where there IS a line of authority that has been established, yielding to those that have authority over you isn't just "giving in" but should be a conscious act of obedience, unity, and respect. When we have mutual submission then the followers submit to the leader to decide the course of action, who then submits to the followers in trying to look at the broad picture and deciding what is best for the whole. This shows in Christ's instructions to leaders to humble themselves and make themselves "least".
Even when those in authority don't "submit back", submission to them is still generally commanded (but see next section).Back to top
There is a limit to our submission to authority that isn't "Godly". When that authority commands a disobedience to a higher authority (like God and his word) then that authority has lost its power to demand obedience, and we MUST submit to the higher (Godly) authority.
Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” -- Act 4:18-20
Sometimes the commands don't violate a specific command, but a general principle from God, and again, we need to do our best to follow the words of God.
Sometimes we disagree with what the authority wants us to do, but that isn't grounds to disobey, unless it gets to the point of actually being "destructive", since one of God's principles is that we need to take care and honor God's creation. This can become a very tough call, and this becomes an opportunity to seek for Wisdom from God, and from his Body (a good opportunity to practice the Discipline of Guidance)Back to top
Paths of Submission
There are a number of different ways we can put into practice the Discipline of Submission
- To God Himself: We should begin each day reminding ourselves of who God is, and turning our day over to him, and then at night, thank him for the day, and give to him our rest.
- To the Scriptures: We should give up our time to learning the scriptures, and to doing our best to obey them. Look to the Living Word (Jesus) and Holy Spirit which inspired the words.
- To our Family: Let the principles "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Phillippians 2:4), and "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Romans 12:18) be the guides for your life in the family. Submit to one another by LISTENING to the others, and being willing to be open and share where you are.
- To our Neighbors, and those we meet: Live a life of simple Goodness before them. Be willing to do many of the small acts of Service that you might see the need for. We can't do everything, but we can do something.
- To the Church: As above, but within the body of believers. Look to see what and how God is calling you to serve the Body.
- To the Broken and Despised: There will always be the class of the downtrodden in society, which we need to recognize and help. We won't be able to meet all their needs, but we can do what we can, but most importantly grant them a sense of identity, and know that someone cares about them, and thus help them see that God cares for them.
- To the World: We need to see how our actions and attitudes can have far-reaching effects on the World, and act to take care of it in the ways we can.ourselves
In our next session we will be talking about a related Discipline, the DIscipline of Service. Submission will often display itself in acts of Service, and Service won't really be Service if there isn't some aspect of Submission in it (it isn't Service if you are thinking about what you get out of it). There is a noticeable difference though, Submission is much more focused on your attitude, which should show up in actions, while Service is more about the actions, but need to be grounded in the right attitudes.Back to top