Reverence for Christ
People submit to one another for many reasons—on the basis of politics or social structures, or even on the basis of pragmatism. Sometimes it’s much easier (and certainly nicer!) just to submit to people than it is to take the risk of seeming rude or confrontational.
None of these reasons, however, are the motivating factors for Christian submission. Instead, the distinguishing feature of our submission to one another should be that it is done “out of reverence for Christ.” Bowing our knees to Jesus keeps us from being preoccupied with ourselves. Reverence for Christ doesn’t only pull us away from ourselves; it pulls us toward Jesus. In Him we see how to heed the call of submission, for it was Jesus Himself who taught, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant … even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26, 28). He not only said those words but lived them. Consider, for example, Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet in John 13. As John records, “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet” (John 13:3-5). What was happening here? Nothing less than the submission of God the Son to God the Father. He who came from God and is God was making Himself nothing by “taking the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:7).
Jesus came to do not His own will but His Father’s (John 6:38). As a result, He accepted hardship. He was isolated and ill-treated. He endured malice, misunderstanding, and death. Jesus was broken in order that our broken lives may be repaired and transformed. It was He who came to die on a cross, submitting Himself to the will of the Father, in order that He might provide a ransom for all who are humble enough to bow down and say, “That is the very Savior I need.”
When we consider Christ as He truly is, we cannot but be moved to revere Him. Who else would we respect and love more than the divine second Person of the Trinity, who was willing to submit Himself even to death in obedience to His Father and for the good of His people? And when we revere Christ, we are ready to have the same attitude as Christ: one that does not grasp for prominence or strive for authority or stand on our rights, but one that obeys God by submitting our own interests to those of our brothers and sisters.
There are many reasons why we may choose to submit to another (and many more reasons why we may choose not to do so). But let this be true of you: that you submit yourself to others in your church out of reverence for Christ, who submitted to His Father and, in doing so, became your Savior.
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?
17Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
Timothy and Epaphroditus
19I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22But you know Timothy's3 proven worth, how as a son4 with a father he has served with me in the gospel. 23I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, 24and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.
25I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, 30for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.
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