Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
Obedience is a weird subject as adults. We know that we are commanded to obey God, but what about the other relationships in our lives that deal with authority? Let’s take a look at a few.
This verse calls us to both obey and submit to our leaders. This is tough to do in an age where we have little respect for the politicians we elect. Obedience is the physical act of doing what they say. Obey the laws or rules: don’t steal, don’t speed, don’t cut in line. Submission is an attitude. We can respectfully disagree, even speak our mind with humility, kindness, and authority. But we cannot make fun of our leaders, make cruel jokes, or be crass, arrogant, or even willfully ignorant in our criticisms. We make not like the former president or the current president or whoever, but we are called to be different from the world. Speak the truth IN LOVE.
What about church authority? We live in a day and age where we do not take church authority seriously. Nowadays, if we don’t like the church leaders telling us we are sinning, we find another church. Or quit going altogether. We do not see ourselves as under or in need of authority. But church discipline is concerned with what God is concerned with – our holiness.
What about our parents? We are not required in scripture to obey our parents as independent adults. Ephesians 6:1 says, “Children obey your parents.” But what we are required to do is sometimes more difficult: Honor our father and mother. That’s commandment #5. To obey requires physical action. We can outwardly obey someone while inwardly disrespecting them. Honor is something that comes from the heart. And when it comes to in-laws, the same commandment applies.
If you are having mother-in-law troubles, read the book of Ruth. She sets the honoring your mother-in-law standard very high. That is the kind of love given by the Holy Spirit. If you are a mother-in-law, remember that Naomi inspired that kind of love.
As Americans, we despise authority. Democracy encourages the rugged individualism Americans are famous for. So when we read the passages on submission in the Bible, let us start by examining our presuppositions. What are your experiences with authority?
As Christians we have the opportunity to demonstrate what authority looks like to a world that doesn’t understand authority. Way back in the garden of Eden, Satan sold Eve on the lie that God’s rule is tyranny, when the total opposite is true. No, ladies, we don’t have to submit to our husbands. We get to. Daughters of the Most High King, put your beloved’s will in front of your own. But do not put it before Christ’s will. And husbands are to put your interest in front of their own.
Submission means this: Jesus is a co-equal person of the God-head, of the Trinity. Yet over and over Jesus tells us he willingly submits to God the Father, to the point of death on a cross. The Bible doesn’t tell us we have to die for our husbands. Quite the contrary, that’s your husband’s job. Jesus willingly humbled Himself and submitted to the Father’s will. He does not ask anything of us that He didn’t already do.
From MOMs February 2023.
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