Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The Duty of Submission (Colossians 3:18-25)

"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord" (Col. 3:18).

The foundation of the marriage union, as in the Christian life, is love. We crucify our sinful desires, we separate ourselves from the temptations of the world, we obey the commands of Christ, we freely submit to His authority, not because He drives us with the rod as a cruel and abusive tyrant, but because of His great love for us and our love for Him. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commands.” Paul says in Romans 2 that we repent of our sins and turn from the deeds of darkness because of the goodness of God, because we are motivated by His patience, longsuffering and grace. Likewise, a woman who marries the man she loves enters into that relationship on the basis of love—love to God and love to her husband. And like the Christian who obeys Christ because of love, the woman submits not only out of due reverence for the position and authority of her husband but out of love for him.

Paul tells the wife to submit to her husband as to the Lord. She can offer her opinions respectfully, prompt him, persuade with sound arguments, but in the end she must submit to the authority God has placed over her. Just as the husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church, the wife is to respect and submit to her husband as the church submits to Christ.

John Angell James wrote to the women in his congregation to consider their great duty in submitting to their husbands: “Let me then, my respected female friends, as you would submit to the authority of Christ, as you would adorn the station that providence has called you to occupy, as you would promote your own peace, the comfort of your husband, and the welfare of your family, admonish you, meekly and gracefully, to be subject in all things, not only to the wise and good, but to the foolish and ill-deserving.… Let your submission be characterized by cheerfulness, and not by reluctant sullenness: let it not be preceded by a struggle, but yielded at once and forever: let there be no holding out to the last extremity, and then a mere compulsory capitulation; but a voluntarily, cheerful, undisputed and unrevoked concession.” Let your submission to your husband be as to the Lord, in humility, meekness, reverence, and, above all, in love.

Read Psalm 116:12–19; Matthew 26:39; Luke 1:38; John 14:23; 15:10; James 4:7. How can a wife emulate these examples of submission and reverence in her relationship to her husband? Pray for the wives in your church, that they would submit to their husbands as to the Lord.