Submission – what does it really mean?

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Ephesians 5:22-24

What should you do when you feel that your husband isn’t treating you right? Maybe you can sense a reoccurring streak of selfishness, or maybe it’s as bad as a complete disregard for how you feel. Worse than that, perhaps you can see that he is making poor choices or ignoring the mandates set forth in God’s Word. How can you make him understand? The short answer: you can’t. You can try to reason with him; respectfully tell him exactly how you feel. Sometimes your honesty will be enough to make him take a second look at things. But in the long run, you can’t force him to believe differently about something or to behave in a certain way.

How then, should you react? Here’s my advice, although many may not agree. The Bible commands wives to submit to their husbands. I know, I know; it also commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. That means that your husband should listen to your opinions and give them a lot of weight in his decision-making, right? Well, the truth is, however your husband decides to interpret that verse, it shouldn’t have any impact on the way you interpret the preceding ones. You see, those verses aren’t set up like “if…then” statements. If the husband loves his wife, then the wife submits to her husband. What if your husband isn’t a Christian at all, and gives no thought to the Bible whatsoever? Does that automatically make you the decision-maker of the household? Because your decisions are the right ones? No. Every wife believes her opinions to be the right ones – all the time. The Bible doesn’t say, “Therefore, whosoever is wrong shall submit to whosoever is right.” God has ordained your husband to make family decisions.

The only time you can disobey your husband is if he asks you to sin against God. You cannot force him to act the way you believe God wants him to. I have found that approaching God’s command this way frees me from worry about the effects of my husband’s decisions. I obey God by obeying my husband; everything that happens in my life as a result is God’s responsibility. You see, God will never punish you for obeying him. In fact, the only way you can find His perfect will is to obey Him to the letter – even if you feel that God’s will is being hindered by others in your life. Believe me; He does have the power to perfectly order your life in spite of other humans.

Your only job is to act the way you believe God wants you to act. As a matter of fact, that is everyone’s job, and the sooner we can believe that as a church, the sooner we can begin to examine our own lives, and stop nit-picking the lives of others – either audibly by nagging them, or in our thoughts. Think about a common church service for example. Maybe the pastor is preaching about finding God’s will for your life. Maybe your husband is sitting next to you, and you just know this sermon is exactly what he needs. You speak to him after the service and discover that he thought the message was, “ok.” What? That was a life-changing message! So why isn’t he bubbling over and brainstorming areas in his life that need changing right away? Sometimes – I would venture to say all of the time – what people really need in their lives is an example of godly living. My advice is to apply every Word from God to your own life, whether you are sitting in church or having a quiet Bible study by yourself. So much time is wasted by thinking, “So-and-so really needs to hear this. I wish she were here,” or “I hope he’s paying good attention. This message is for him.” When in reality, God has you sitting under that message on that day for a reason, and I guarantee that that reason is not so you can sit there and think about who else needs to hear it. Am I making sense? Let me bring it down to one sentence:

It is not the words you speak that will change the world, but the example that you set.

Challenge: apply everything you read today to your own life.

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