Mutual Submission

by APC on November 12, 2015

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:1–8, KJV).

Being Submissive

Paul wrote to the Philippian church to be wary of three things: strife, vainglory, and being better (Philippians 2:3). Having strife is contending for a viewpoint or fighting for a cause (pushing for a personal preference). Vainglory is the pursuit of personal attention or glory. And, being better is holding ourselves above others.

Being submissive to others is a difficult concept. We cannot be submissive to others if we exhibit strife, vainglory, or think we’re better than others. We should hold others above ourselves and not be obsessed with our own advantage. Paul admonishes the church to have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5). If we have His mind, we’ll make choices according to Him and His Word.

Jesus emptied Himself of His potential glory and Kingship and made Himself a servant. He faced the cross for all of us. Jesus emulated the epitome submissiveness to others and was the catalyst for starting a culture of mutual submission. We need to be a part of this culture to practice true submission to others.

Concept of Submission

There are numerous examples in Scripture that instruct the believer to be submissive. Of note is Ephesians 5:21 which tells us to submit to each other in the fear of God. We are not only to be submissive to God, but to each other. We must put our own ideas, notions, plight, goals, mission, etc. under someone else. We should favor their mission, lift them up, and meet their needs first.

The more spiritual success and maturity we have, the harder submission will be for us. Submitted Jesus followers will know how to lead and to follow (be submissive) and do a lot of both. There is nothing greater than mutual submission.

During Jesus’ ministry, He expounded to His disciples what would become of Him (Mark 10:32–45). After His monologue, James and John asked Him if they would be able to sit on his left and right in His Kingdom (Mark 10:35–37). Jesus explains the concept of being first in His kingdom is different than what the world has defined. To be great, we must be a minister and servant to all (Mark 10:43–44). If we ever choose to be first for the purpose of being exalted, we’ve chosen a position and role for ourselves that not even Jesus took upon Himself.

Ways to Submit to One Another

Create Space for Submission

Submission needs time, place, resources, and opportunity. We need to develop a culture within ourselves and our church where in every opportunity we look for ways to help. Most of the time, we do not submit because we do not have the space in our lives to submit. We must create an opportunity to submit take the opportunity to submit—we must create the margin to be able to serve. We need to take the effort to prioritize the kingdom and determine what makes the most sense for the kingdom first before anything we do for ourselves. If we don’t make room in our lives to be submissive, we will seek to advance ourselves and our kingdom first before His Kingdom.

Confront Our Egos

Paul told the church not to do anything in strife or for vainglory. As followers of Jesus, we need to think about what’s more important: creating a great ministry or a name for ourselves. When it comes to submitting ourselves to one another, our egos get in the way more than we care to admit. We need to get rid of our self-righteous attitudes that everyone should serve us and become a servant ourselves.

Kill Comparison

We love to compare ourselves to other people. But, when we do this, we start to build goals in our lives by what we see in others instead of what God sees in us. Scripture tells us we are unwise to compare ourselves to others (II Corinthians 10:12). The only time we should compare ourselves to someone else is to make sure that they have enough of something. If they lack, we need to give. If they are wanting, we need to sacrifice. We need to humble ourselves and serve our brothers and sisters! When we compare ourselves against others in the wrong way, we compare against flawed results. If we are going to compare, we need to compare to the true source—Jesus Christ.

Mutual Submission

We need to submit to each other out of the reference for Christ (Ephesians 5:21). We submit because Christ did, and He is our ultimate example. Jesus was submissive to us, and He was perfect for us. If we can submit ourselves to Him and His plan, it will become easier for us to submit to others. When we have the Holy Ghost flowing through us, it will flow out of us in the form of submission.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on November 11, 2015