…submitting to one another other out of reverence for Christ. ~Eph. 5:21, ESV
I think the verse above is the key to the instructions Paul gives after it. In the following verses, Paul talks about submission between a husband and wife, children and parents, and slaves and masters. None of these situations are easy, and most of the time when conscientious submission is needed, we don’t want to do it.
However, here Paul gives the key. He doesn’t say to submit because you want to or because the person is always kind (though he does also give instructions to those who are being submitted to), but because we revere and have respect for Christ.
He also tells those those are being submitted to, to nourish “as Christ does the church,” “not provoke to wrath, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” and “stop threatening, knowing that he is both their Master” (Eph. 5:29, 4, 9). On both sides of the equation, it is Christ that makes it all work.
Are any of these positions easy? No! It is not easy as a parent to hold my temper and not add more anger to an already frustrating situation. It is not easy to act lovingly and patiently when I really want to yell. It is also not easy to submit to Jeremy when we don’t agree on something*. However, because of my love and reverence for Christ whether in the position of authority or submission, I choose to do what Paul instructs, especially when it is hard.
My challenge this week is to work to put these instructions of Paul into practice. Whether you are in a position of submission or authority, work to put Christ first.
John Piper “Jesus is Precious as the Foundation of the Family” on Eph. 5:21-6:9
Grace to You “Ten Commandments of Parenting” on Eph. 5:24-25
*Over A Cup “Following Sara, part 1” on submission in marriage