Clarksville, TN – Do you think it would be easier to be perfect if you weren’t surrounded by difficult people? Think about it though, why are people the way they are?
We often quote a verse that says, “My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 NKJV) Did you ever stop to think that God also supplies the people with whom you need to live with?
Maybe you say “But Lord I don’t need an alcoholic husband, or unloving wife, or unreasonable boss, or rebellious children.” If that’s what you have, then that’s what God says you need, or else He wouldn’t have gave it to you.
God put us in difficult circumstances to strip us of our old nature and teach us joyful submission to His will. Nothing teaches us better than having to live with difficult people.
Often God brings someone into our lives who irks us to death, because we need that person. That person brings out the worst in us and we need to see that for ourselves in order to get rid of it. Our stubborn, self-willed ego says “I don’t want to do what anybody tells me to do, I won’t take that nonsense from anybody!”
Do you recognize that ugly thing inside rearing up, always wanting to have the last word. It is called the flesh, the old nature and only submission can bring it under control.
Paul gave some specific guidelines for the Christian life:
1) “… be filled with the Holy Spirit”
2) Always give thanks for everything, to our God and Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
3) Honor Christ by submitting to each other (Ephesians 5:18, 20, 21)
Step 3 is the hardest for us to accept, but without it, the other two won’t work. Submission to other people is an absolutely necessary part of the Christian growth process. God who knows us better than we do and gives us opportunities to be in submission to certain people just so that we can become what He wants us to be.
Even Jesus learned submission through experience. As a young boy He had more wisdom and understanding than anyone else in the world. When He was 12, His parents, brought Him to the temple in Jerusalem. They returned home, but Jesus stayed in deep discussion with the Temple teachers, who marveled at His understanding. When His parents found out they left Him, He was told to come home immediately.
Of course children should submit to their parents. We all know that, but the reason behind it may be something we haven’t grasped yet. As children we may say our parents are too overbearing and strict or they just don’t care about us. But God gave us the parents we have because we need them. If He had wanted it differently, He would have put you in another family. If you are living with foster parents or adoptive parents the same thing holds true. God placed them in authority over you because you need it.
If you love them submission is easy because love is “not rude or selfish. Love doesn’t demand its own way and thinks no evil.” (I Corinthians 13:5) The most powerful way to demonstrate Christianity to your parents is to obey them in love. Remember that you are in a 3 way relationship. As you submit first to God, He will help you submit to your parents in such a way that they can see Christ and His love in you.
God has placed parents in authority over children, but authority will be false and destructive unless we learn to combine it with true submission. The first step is to submit to God’s will and recognize He has given us exactly the children we need. If they are bright or slow, talented or clumsy, obedient or unruly, they are what we need and you are what they need. God matched us up with infinite care, whether our children are of our flesh and blood or come to us some other way.
There is chaos and constant friction in homes everywhere partly because parents haven’t learned to use proper authority and submission. They always want the very best for their children, and tend to blame themselves when their kids do wrong. In frustration they tend to give up all attempts to discipline or become too harsh. The Bible tells us there is a better way. “And now a word to you fathers, don’t (keep scolding and nagging your children) making them angry by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4 Living)
From God’s perspective our family crisis is a wonderful opportunity for us to learn together to give thanks for the problems we go through. A common mistake parents make is thinking of their children as belonging to them. They cling to them and try to mold their lives. When in all actuality your children are God’s. You’re just “babysitting” so to speak. Parents should submit their children to God and realize that their relationship with Him is more important than their relationship with them.
Being a husband or a wife gives us another wonderful opportunity to submit. Submitting to our spouses’ means first of all that we are really glad they are exactly the way they are. If they are difficult to live with, it is because we need that. There is no better way to get rid of the rough edges of our own stubborn ego. Aren’t you glad for an opportunity to be changed into a more loving, kind, and patient person?
True submission is a powerful thing. That is why Peter wrote, “In like manner you married women, be submissive to your own husbands… so that even if they don’t obey the Word of God, they may be won over not by discussion, but by the godly lives of their wives.” (I Peter 3:1 AMP)
Marriage is a 3-way relationship. Jesus should be number one in the relationship with your spouse a close second. A husband is placed in authority over his wife, but nowhere in the Bible is he told to enforce his authority. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” (Ephesians 5:25 NKJV)
In many modern marriages husbands leave the decision making to their wives. If that is what you are doing then you are neglecting her true needs. God has appointed you as her head, to guide and direct her with the love Christ, who is your Head. If she doesn’t want your advice are you glad? That gives you an opportunity to depend on God and submit your wife to Him. If you let God put you in your right place as head of your wife, you can trust Him to be in charge of her submission as well. Your job is to concentrate on being glad she is the way she is and love her.
The government is another thing that as Christians we should submit to. It may be wrong, but if we rebel against it, we are disobeying God, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” (Romans 13:1 NKJV) That means communist, fascists, or crooked officials too. If you think the rules and regulations are too strict, the taxes too high, the speed limit too slow, they are that way because we need to learn submission. Are you grateful for the highway patrolman who stops you when you are speeding? Are you grateful for the IRS?
There may come a day when your government says, “Round up 6 million Jews and get rid of them.” That’s when God will tell you to exercise His authority and refuse. Or they may say, “Deny your faith or lose your freedom” or they may even try to kill you. That has happened to many Christians through the years and they counted it a joyous privilege to die for Christ. Would you? Most of us have a long way to go in the school of submission before we get that far. We can’t even submit to each other in church. All the different denominations are a result of Christians not being able to submit to one another.
Why do you think God puts different people together in church? He does it so that we can learn to love each other. And our love isn’t real until we can submit. Are there stuck up elders in your church? A holier than thou pastor who tells everybody what to do? A gossip in the pew? A sour Sunday school teacher? Isn’t the church as spiritual as you want it to be? If you leave before His Spirit leads, you’ll miss a wonderful opportunity to learn submission. God can change these people, and there is a good chance He will, when you’ve learned to be really glad they are what they are.
True authority never seeks to exalt itself or force others. It only seeks the greatest good for those who it has been placed over. Jesus called Himself a servant, and to demonstrate it, He knelt before His disciples and washed their feet. If you have been placed in authority over someone at home, in church, at work, in government, do you think of yourself as serving them? Do you seek their greatest good, wanting their submission to be mature and voluntary?
If there is conflict are you glad? If someone is lazy, careless, disrespectful, argumentative, are you grateful? Do you know that God allows them to be like that to teach you true authority? Do you think of Jesus as number one and your difficult subordinate as a close second? Can you see yourself kneeling before them and washing their feed? If you can’t there is something lacking in your submission, and your authority isn’t what God wants it to be.
You can’t separate authority from submission. Once you really understand it, no one can take advantage of you and you won’t take advantage of others. You are learning to submit with joy to God’s will whether He asks you to take authority or to be a doormat. If He wants you to be a doormat, then be the happiest doormat ever because you are learning to be what God wants you to be, and your praise will flow from a heart filed with the joy of Christ. Jesus said “… Well done, thou good and faithful servant; …enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matthew 28:21 KJV) You are seeing Heaven flow into Hell.