None of us will ever forget the year 2020 when the world shut down amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Worry about sickness, coping with sudden changes, and fear of the unknown have stressed both the world and our hearts. While we may not fix the world, living with anxious hearts is not how God intends His daughters to live. How have you survived in these days? I have friends who have coped by accomplishment overdrive, while others became paralyzed with worry. What is an anxious heart really? Isn’t it a lack of submission to our good and sovereign God who orders everything for His own glory and the good of His people? Submission to God orders our thoughts and guides our actions in both normal and pandemic days. But submission is a rather unpopular word in the world today. Just mention “submission” and both men and women tense up! As a result, the topic of submission is abused, ignored, and only occasionally whispered. What God meant for good has been perverted, abused, and misunderstood.
In the book of Titus, we see the principles of submission as the apostle Paul instructs Titus to “set in order the things that were lacking” in the Cretian churches. Throughout the book, Paul outlines order for church life, home life, civil government, and relationships with others and with self. Being under God- given authority brings order to life and glory to God.
The Greek word for submission means “to arrange under” and was originally a Greek military term used for arranging the troops under the direction of the commanding officer. The Old Testament phrase “to set the battle in array” gives the idea (2 Samuel 10). Paul instructed Titus to “set in order the things that are wanting” (Titus 1:5). The military use of submission, “arranging or ordering under,” is expanded in the non-military use to mean “a voluntary attitude of cooperation and assuming responsibility; a yielding to the authority of another.” Synonyms include subjection and obedience.
In the gospel, submission involves feelings of desire, honor, and love (Genesis 3:16; Ephesians 5:33; Titus 2:4). Not only does God give us the command, but He also gives us the most beautiful example of submission.
The Lord Jesus Christ, the altogether lovely One, has beautifully modeled submission to God the Father. The Son submitted to do the Father’s will. It was not beneath Him, rather He came with delight to do the Father’s will. “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God” (Psalm 40:7-8; Hebrews 10:7,9). He came zealously, setting His face as a flint for Jerusalem, and joyously, for the joy that was set before Him. As a youth, He was obedient to Mary and Joseph. In John 5:30, Jesus did not seek to do His own will, but “the will of the Father” who had sent Him. As Jesus neared the cross-work, He prayed in John 17, “I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. I have manifested thy name…I have given them the words which thou gavest me.” Agonizing in the Garden, Jesus submitted, “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.” In perfectly fulfilling the Father’s will, the Lord Jesus Christ elevated submission to its rightful place of honor, beauty, dignity, and glory.
As the Lord Jesus Christ submitted Himself to do the Father’s will, so may Christian women surrender to heart submission as unto the Lord. My dear sisters-in-Christ, “Let us meditate upon these things, giving ourselves wholly to them, that our profiting may appear to all” (1 Timothy 4:15). May the Lord help us echo Charles Wesley’s words:
O for a heart to praise my God
A heart resigned, submissive, meek
A humble, lowly, contrite heart
A heart in every thought renewed and full of love divine
Perfect and right and pure and good A copy, Lord, of Thine.
Then living from a submitted, settled heart, Christian women can thrive, not just survive, during normal and pandemic days.