November 24-25, 2018
Love Won Another
“Let’s do it your way!”
Introduction and offering:
Today we continue our series “Love Won Another”—it’s a look at the “One Another” commands in the New Testament. Love one another, forgive one another, honor one another, and so on—there are at least 28 of these commands that describe how we treat each other. Many of these are revolutionary—and many of them are difficult. Like this one: submit to one another.
What do you think of when you hear the word “submit”? Often, that word conjures up images of people being oppressed, controlled and dominated by others. Submit! For example, the Bible talks about wives submitting to husbands; this has been misunderstood as a wife bowing to her husband,“yes, my lord and master.”
ILL: Vince Lombardi, Hall of Fame coach of the Green Bay Packers, climbed into bed one night and his wife, Marie, said, “God, your feet are cold!” Lombardi answered, “Dear, in the privacy of our house, you may call me Vince.”
One lady wrote: My husband and I divorced over religious differences. He thought he was God, and I didn’t.
Today we’re going to see what it means to submit to one another and why it’s such an important part of loving each other.
Our Big Idea: Love does not insist on its own way. We love one another when we are willing to defer and submit to one another.
Our text is Ephesians 5:21 (p. 1009) Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. We’re going to unpack that in 3 parts:
What does it mean to submit to one another? (longest)
Why should we submit to one another?
What about boundaries?
- What does it mean to submit to one another?
Let me begin by having everyone take a deep breath and relax. As I said, this word conjures up images of people being oppressed, controlled and dominated by others. That’s not where we’re going. There’s nothing heavy-handed about our text or what I’m going to say. Please tell your neighbor, “It’s going to be ok.”
In English, the word “submit” means, “to defer or yield to the authority or will of another.” Let’s do it your way. The opposite would be to resist or defy. No—I’ll do it my way.
The Greek word that is translated “submit” is hupotasso, which literally means, “to place or arrange under.” Hupo is the prefix meaning “under” and tasso meant “to arrange, to put in order.” It was a common military term, meaning, “to obey or submit to the orders of a superior officer.” The noun taxis, meant “order;” we get the word “taxonomy” from it, which is the “orderly classification of plants and animals.” So the notion of order is central to this word.
The idea is that there is a social order or arrangement in many relationships that ought to be acknowledged and respected. This order is all around us; without it, society would crumble. While all human beings are equal, we also recognize differences in assignment, role or station that are to be respected.
- I am equal to a police officer, but I willingly obey his directions when he signals me to pull over. I don’t stick my head out the window and yell, “You can’t tell me what to do!” I recognize and respect his authority and I submit—I pull over.
- That same officer may come to Life Center, and defer to my leadership here.
- A student submits to his teacher’s authority at school, an employee to his boss at work, a patient to his doctor, a player to his coach, and an enlisted man to his commanding officer.
Many of your relationships have a social order to them. That’s what this Greek word for submission means. It is recognizing and respecting that order. When that social order is resisted or defied, the relationship is jeopardized, and when disrespect for social order is widespread, society begins to crumble—that is anarchy. Is there a time to resist an order? Yes—we’ll get to that in point 3 when we talk about boundaries.
This idea of order in social relationships runs through the whole New Testament, so we are told to submit in many different relationships. I’m going to name them here—if you would like the verses for all these, we’ll provide them on our website this week along with the transcript of this message. (For the slide)
- Everyone submits to God. Hebrews 12:9, James 4:7, Matthew 11:28-30.
- Everyone submits to civil authorities. Romans 13:1-5, 1 Peter 2:13-17
- Christians submit to spiritual leaders. 1 Corinthians 16:16, Hebrews 13:17
- Wives submit to husbands. Ephesians 5:22-33, Colossians 3:18-19, 1 Peter 3:1-7
- Children submit to parents. Ephesians 6:1-4, Colossians 3:20-21
- Employees submit to employers. Ephesians 6:5-9, Colossians 3:22-4:1, 1 Peter 2:18
- Younger submit to older. 1 Peter 5:5
- Christians submit to one another. Ephesians 5:21
- Everyone submits to God. Everyone is expected to submit to God, to obey Him and follow Him. Hebrews 12:9, James 4:7, Matthew 11:28-30.
- Everyone submits to civil authorities. The Bible is clear that we are to respect and obey civil authorities, whether it’s government, education or law enforcement. Romans 13:1-5, 1 Peter 2:13-17
- Christians submit to spiritual leaders. Church members are instructed to obey and submit to their spiritual leaders. 1 Corinthians 16:16, Hebrews 13:17
- 4. Wives submit to husbands. A Christian wife is instructed to respect her husband’s leadership. Ephesians 5:22-33, Colossians 3:18-19, 1 Peter 3:1-7
- 5. Children submit to parents. Children must be taught to acknowledge and respect their parents’ authority. Ephesians 6:1-4, Colossians 3:20-21
- 6. Employees submit to employers. I think we all get this; if you don’t, you won’t have a job long! Ephesians 6:5-9, Colossians 3:22-4:1, 1 Peter 2:18
- 7. Younger submit to older. The young are to respect their elders. 1 Peter 5:5
- 8. Christians submit to one another. All Christians are to enjoy relationships of mutual submission with each other. Ephesians 5:21
That quick overview gives you an idea of what the Bible has to say on this subject of respecting the order in relationships. Yet in our text, without tossing the normal orders out the window, the apostle Paul levels the playing field. As Christians, we’re all to submit to one another. Regardless of what other relational orders we’re all used to, in the church, we are all one.
One of the reasons the first century church made such an impact was because of the deep sense of community they enjoyed. The church was an island of mutual love and respect in a deeply divided culture.
Galatians 3:26-28 (p. 1003) So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
- The church was the only place where race made no difference. Jew and Gentile, black and white, worshipped side by side and loved and submitted to each other.
- The church was the only place where master and slave sat side-by-side as equals. In fact, there were many churches whose pastors were slaves, and their masters sat under their slave’s leadership.
- The church was the only place where men and women were acknowledged equals, and where children were deeply respected as full members of God’s family along with adults.
- The church was the only place where economic and social status had no bearing on your standing. Rich or poor were treated as equals, and were expected to love each other.
Today’s world remains as deeply divided as the ancient world: divided by race, nationality, age, gender, economic status, and power. But in the church, in God’s kingdom, all those distinctions take a back seat, and here we are all the same: all one in Christ, all children of God who submit to one another.
The church is to be a radical counter-culture that lifts everybody above stereotypes and classes, and places everybody below one another in humility, service and submission.
ILL: When Brennan Manning, an evangelical Catholic, was waiting to catch a plane in the Atlanta airport, he sat down in shoe shine seat. An elderly black man began to shine Brennan’s shoes. And Brennan had this feeling inside that after he was done, he should pay and tip him and then reverse the roles.
So when the man finished, Brennan stood up and said, “Now, sir, I would like to shine your shoes.” And the man recoiled and said, “You’re going to do what?” Brennan said, “I’d like to shine your shoes. Please. Sit down here. How would you like them done?” And the black man began to cry, and he said, “No white man ever talked to me like this before.” And the story ends with two pairs of shined shoes, a long embrace, and lots of tears.
That’s the vision of the church. It’s my turn to serve you. It’s my turn to submit to you. Friends, it’s a vision that will change the world if we’ll live it out. So let me talk for just a moment about living it out.
Practically, what does it look like to submit to one another? To submit means to yield or defer to another. 1 Corinthians 13:5 (ESV) Love does not insist on its own way. When we submit to one another, we don’t insist on our own way; instead, we agree to another’s way. We defer or yield to the other person. “Let’s do it your way.” (Say it.) Or here’s another way to say it: “As you wish.”
ILL: Clip from the Princess Bride. “As you wish.” May your will be done. Let’s do it your way. And as the movie wisely says, “Whenever Wesley said, ‘As you wish’ what he was really saying was ‘I love you.’” Submission is an expression of unselfish love—yielding to another. As you wish.
The reason this is so difficult is that it goes against the grain of our selfishness. I don’t like other people telling me what to do. I want to be in charge. I want to make my own decisions, call my own shots, be the master of my own fate, the captain of my own ship. Like Frank Sinatra, “I’ll do it my way!” That’s why we bristle inside when someone tells us we ought to submit.
ILL: Have you ever watched and listened as small children play? They argue about what they’re going to play, and how they’re going to play it. Sometimes the arguments last longer than the game. Sometimes they never get to the game; someone will get offended, take their ball and go home. You and I know that there is a very easy way to settle these childish arguments. One person just needs to say, “Ok. Let’s do it your way.” End of argument. That’s submitting to one another. Let’s do it your way. (Say it.)
Most of the arguments we have as adults are not much different. Most of them are about non-essentials—stuff that’s not really all that important or earth-shattering. We can do the same thing: defer, submit. “Ok, let’s do it your way.”
ILL: I mentioned last week that 19 years ago, Laina and I built a new house. Someone told us before we started that you make 5,000 decisions when you build a house. I think they underestimated. And we had lots of people warn us; they told us that they hope our marriage survived! We didn’t just survive; we had a ball! I’ll tell you why. Because every time we had a decision to make, I asked Laina what she liked, and then I said, “Great! Let’s do that!” Ok, that’s not entirely true. What is true is that we learned how to submit to one another. We took turns saying, “Ok, let’s do it your way.” Anything that had to do with the kitchen or bath or bedrooms or the great room, or with color schemes or decorating, I said, “Let’s do it your way.” And anything that had to do with the garage, she said, “Have it your way!” Woohoo!
This raises a very real question. What do you do when you are at loggerheads, when you don’t agree and neither wants to yield? Here is my suggestion: the most mature one goes first. The mature one yields to the other. Is that you?
As always, our example is Jesus, and there is no better example of this then when Jesus prayed in the Garden.
Matthew 26:39 (p. 854) Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Jesus the Son submitted to God the Father. “Not my will but yours be done.” Would you say that with me? Not my will but yours be done. Let’s do it your way. We follow Jesus’ example and submit to God—not my will but yours be done. And then we learn to submit to one another—not my will but yours be done. Let’s do it your way.
One last thing: we are to offer this to one another, never demand it from one another. If you go home and tell your spouse or friend, “Joe said you’re supposed to submit to me,” you’ve missed the point. We don’t tell another person to submit to us. We offer to yield to them. Let’s do it your way.
What does it mean to submit to one another? It means we willingly yield to another. Let’s do it your way. (Say it.) But why?
Back to our text in Ephesians 5:21 (p. 1009). Submit to one another out of your reverence for Christ. (Leave Finder Tab here)
- Why should we submit to one another?
We do it out of reverence for Christ. In other words, our relationship with God is the driving motivation behind our relationships with each other. I’m going to defer to you because I love Him. I’m going to treat you with respect because I reverence Him. If you love Jesus, you will treat people differently. It’s impossible to truly love God, and not love people.
1 John 4:7-8 (p. 1056) Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:19-21 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (Today’s blog.)
John cuts to the heart of the matter. If you love God, you must love each other. God is love, so if you are living in God and God is living in you, you must love others. Don’t say you love God, whom you’ve never seen, yet refuse to love your brother whom you have seen, who sits beside you every day.
Here is why we submit to one another. Here is our motivation. We love God. Because Jesus is first in our lives, because we are Christ-followers, because of our reverence for Christ, we treat one another with respect, with deference. We submit to one another. Our relationship with the Lord affects everything else in life—first of all, our relationships with others. So we submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Does anyone besides me need help? Help is on the way and it is found in the context. Verse 21 is really the end of a single long sentence that begins in verse 18.
Ephesians 5:18–21 (p. 1009) Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
That’s all one sentence in the Greek, and the main verb is in verse 18: “be filled”. The other verbs are all participles, indicating that they are the results of the main verb. “Keep on being filled with the Spirit, and you will be…
- Speaking to one another,
- Singing to God,
- Giving thanks to the Father,
- Submitting to one another.”
These are marks of being Spirit-filled, and one of them is mutual submission. You will find the power and strength to love others and submit to others by being filled with God’s Spirit.
That’s what we need. Our natural tendency is to look out for number one, to insist on our own way. We need to be filled with God’s Spirit. And since most of us leak, we need to be re-filled every day! “Keep on being filled with the Spirit” is the way the verse reads.
Our relationship with God is the driving force in our relationships with others. We submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. We love each other because He first loved us and we love Him back. If you do not have a love relationship with God, you will find it difficult if not impossible to love others like we’ve been talking about. In a few moments, we’re going to take some time to pray. Lots of us will ask God to fill us with the Holy Spirit. And some of us will ask God to come into our lives for the first time, and give us a new heart and a new spirit. As I finish this last point, think about what you’re going to ask God for.
- What about boundaries?
Some of you are way ahead of me, and you’ve been thinking, “Are we always supposed to submit to the other person? Do we never insist on our own way? What if our way is the right way and the other person is wrong? Aren’t there some boundaries?” Yes, of course there are boundaries. No one should defer every time—God’s not asking you to be a doormat. There are times to stand up for yourself, and to be healthy, you’ve got to have some boundaries, some limits.
Beyond personal health, there is also the issue of right and wrong. Not every decision is minor or a matter of preference. Sometimes it is a matter of right and wrong. And in those cases, you should stand your ground. There are times when it is wrong to submit to another person because they are wrong. I’ve listed a few examples from Scripture.
In Exodus 1, Pharaoh commanded the Hebrew midwives to kill all the Hebrew boys as soon as they were born, but it says, Exodus 1:17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.
The Bible says to submit to the king. But here they refused. Why? Because the king told them to do something that God said was wrong. The midwives did not submit to the king because they feared God. We submit to one another out of reverence for Christ; but sometimes we have to refuse to submit out of reverence for Christ.
In Daniel 3, King Nebuchadnezzar threatened to throw three Hebrew men into a fiery furnace and turn them into crispy critters because they wouldn’t bow down to his idol. Here is their reply: Daniel 3:16–18 “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Don’t you love it? “Our God can save us from your furnace, but even if he doesn’t, we won’t bow down to your idol.” Normally, these three guys would have submitted to the king. But not this time. He was wrong; he had crossed a boundary by asking them to worship an idol.
In Daniel 6, King Darius passed a decree forbidding people to pray to anyone but him; if you prayed to anyone else, you were to be thrown to the lions. Here is Daniel’s response. Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.
Daniel refused to submit because it was wrong.
In Acts 4, the religious leaders in Jerusalem have just commanded the apostles to stop preaching about Jesus. They reply, Acts 4:19–20 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
Same thing in Acts 5. When they were arrested for continuing to preach, Peter told them, Acts 5:29 “We must obey God rather than human beings!” That kind of says it all.
We submit to one another out of reverence for Christ; sometimes we don’t submit for the same reason. You love God and don’t want to violate God’s will. Sometimes you have to choose between submitting to people and submitting to God, and then the choice is clear: obey God first. Do the right thing.
In reality, those occasions will be the exception rather than the rule. My wife doesn’t ask me to do wrong things. My friends here at Life Center don’t ask me to do wrong things. If they did, I’d say no. But most of the time, it’s not a matter of right versus wrong, or of obeying God versus obeying man. Most of the time, it’s simply a matter of overcoming my own selfishness and saying, “Ok, let’s do it your way this time.” And for that I need God’s power.