Observation: Paul focuses on relationships, beginning with the importance of submitting ourselves to one another out of reverence for Christ. He addresses wives, husbands, children, parents, slaves, and masters, providing a guideline for our relationships.
Application: Successful relationships can be difficult. They require time. They require vulnerability. They require effort. They require focus. They require honesty, transparency, selflessness.
They require God.
When I’m caught up in trying to unpack (read: control) my own relationships, I often wish there was some kind of guidebook to tell me what to do, how to act, what to say.
And when I read this passage, I realize my guidebook is right here, tucked in the end of Ephesians. In verse 21, Paul tells me what I need to know about every relationship I have, as a wife, as a daughter, as a sister, as a friend, as an employee, and as a teammate:
“And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
The secret to successful relationships is submission.
We often get so tripped up by that word “submission” that we can’t get past our own negative connotations to realize that submission is beautiful. Paul isn’t just talking about submission in our marriages; he’s talking about submission in our relationships with our parents and our children and our siblings, submission in our friendships, submission to our bosses and employees. Submission is selflessness. Submission is Jesus-centered.
When we submit to God, we lay aside everything that so often damages our relationships – our egos, our need for control, our pride. Our relationships are no longer rooted in figuring out how to get our desired outcome; they’re rooted in serving the other person as Christ serves us.
And Christ serves us so well. He showers us with love, with grace, with mercy. He is a source of peace and joy. He’s patient and he’s kind.
What if we were the same way in our relationships? What if we showered others with love, with grace, with mercy? What if we forgave quickly? What if we were steady and calm, bringing peace to any situation? What if we acted with patience, gentleness, and kindness?
Let’s submit to each other today. Let’s pack up our own egos and desires, lay them at the feet of Jesus, and ask him to be present in us as we’re present with others. Let’s respect one another, honor one another, and love one another as Christ loves us.
Prayer: God, I pray you’ll be present in my relationships. I pray I can draw on you for strength when I get tied up with my own ego and desires. I pray I can see the other person as you see them and treat them with respect, honor, and love. Amen.