Submission and Humility
When people take part in an orchestra, they lose something of their own individuality. A symphony is not a solo performance. Although the musicians do not lose their identities, they’re nevertheless subsumed into the orchestra itself. The group is more significant as a whole than an individual is on their own, and the collective produces something that no individual musician could create.
Paul expresses a similar idea when he writes of “submitting to one another”—though here, of course, the group is not an orchestra but the church.
While we may have a variety of responses to the concept of submission, we must acknowledge that the Bible uses it straightforwardly and frequently. For Paul, the unity and health of the church depended on Christians understanding submission rightly and putting that into practice among one another.
What does it look like to take the matter of believers’ mutual submission seriously? In part, it means each of us realizing that we don’t have the slightest reason to feel overly pleased with ourselves or superior to somebody else. In other words, we demonstrate mutual submission by putting on humility. This is made difficult, of course, by our pride—a great challenge we all face, and one that is intensified by living in a culture that is constantly pressuring us to push ourselves to the front.
Yet the church ought to stand out in and from that kind of environment. As God’s people, we understand that we cannot even wake in the morning without His enabling. The fact of the matter is that we are entirely dependent on Him (Acts 17:24-25). The gospel is the key to true humility because the gospel reminds us that God has done for us in Jesus the thing that we most need, and the thing that we are utterly unable to do for ourselves.
Real humility is not self-deprecation; it is freedom from ourselves. It’s the freedom to be ourselves and forget ourselves. It’s the freedom that comes from knowing that we are not the center of the universe. When you keep such humility in sight, you will be prepared to submit to others—to bring all that you are and use it to serve the greater good, under the direction of others, with the interests of others as your priority. Then your church can produce something beautiful—a gospel-displaying community. So do not wait for others in your church to be that kind of Christian. Today, humbly resolve that you will be that Christian.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
Unity in the Body of Christ
1I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”1
9(In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth?2 10He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds3 and teachers,4 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,5 to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Get the Program, Devotional, and Bible Reading Plan delivered daily right to your inbox.