By Joe Slater
Words like submit and obey rub many people’s fur the wrong way. Let’s face it – the fleshly part of us balks at the idea of yielding to the will of another. No wonder Frank Sinatra’s best-seller “My Way” is one of the most often-requested songs at funerals!
Even we who have pledged our obedience to God sometimes object when His word tells us to submit and obey other people. For example, when Colossians 3:18 instructs wives to “submit to your own husbands,” what picture comes to your mind? Is it the stereotypical cave man with a club in one hand, dragging around his poor, bedraggled, passive wife by her hair with his other hand? That’s not Biblical submission! Just look at the rest of the sentence and the one following. A wife’s submission to her husband is “fitting in the Lord.” And husbands are to love their wives and not be bitter toward them (3:18-19).
The same pattern holds true for children and parents (vv. 20-21). Children are to obey their parents. Why? Because “this is well-pleasing to the Lord.” But fathers are commanded not to provoke their children, lest they become discouraged.
Paul also told slaves to obey their fleshly masters in all things (3:22-24). Why? Because by doing so, “you serve the Lord Christ” (v. 24). Therefore they were to serve with heart-felt sincerely and reverence for God at all times, not just when the master was looking. And masters were also commanded to be just and fair with their servants, knowing that the Heavenly Master will punish those earthly masters who are abusive (3:25 – 4:1).
Let us abandon false, stereotypical ideas about submission and obedience. The Lord’s way is best!
- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://justinchurchofchrist.com
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