When Pete and I met with the minister of my church for our wedding preparations, we chose scriptures for our ceremony. I can remember specifically choosing Colossians 3:12-17, but asked the minister to stop before verse 18. I didn’t like the way it sounded. You see, verse 18 said “for wives, be subject to your husbands. One version even used the word “submit” to your husband.” I didn’t like the sound of that at that wise young age of 24. No way was I going to submit to anyone, especially my husband. As Pete and I continued through marriage preparation classes, we learned what it meant to be obedient (or submit) to one another. Obedience isn’t a bad thing. Actually it shows trust and love in order to be obedient to someone. Most of all it emphasizes humility. Still during these classes I had a hard time picturing what that looked like. I understood that these were virtues that I needed to hold close to my heart, but I didn’t fully comprehend what it all meant. So, I left out that verse at our wedding.
As I have uncovered my faith and allowed God to melt my heart, I have found that I like verse 18 in the third chapter of Colossians. In fact, I find it refreshing that Paul wrote those words. Written below is the entire Colossians from Chapter 3 that I wished I would have used at my wedding (remember I stopped after verse 17):
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. [18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.]
This is a clear cut way of looking at true unconditional love. Paul tells us in his writing that when we choose God we will put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Because we truly understand these virtues, we will become forgiving to one another and we will be able move beyond the faults of each other. He continues to urge us to allow Christ to rule our hearts once again showing us the key to true selflessness and humility. Paul doesn’t stop there, he continues with the plea for us to worship God through the psalms, through scripture and through songs of praise. Sounds like church, doesn’t it?
Now comes that part I left out. I was so selfish back in my twenties. I saw only myself in the picture and not enough of God. I couldn’t move passed what it would look like to others if I urged people to submit to their loved ones. Doesn’t that sound weak? Aren’t I encouraging oppression of women? I didn’t want people to see me as a weak, obedient wife. That required way too much humility. I wasn’t ready for that. As I look back now, I can see I wasn’t making much room for God in my life. I just didn’t have time for God. I was lucky if I made it to church. I sure wasn’t ready to push away my own selfish desires and allow God to show me what true humility actually looked like.
Throughout my marriage to Pete, I have found that submission, while hard is necessary. I have to trust that God will show His strength through my weakness. Submission or obedience is a calling from God to each of us. We have to leave our selfish desires behind and allow God’s desires to come to the forefront. What I like about Paul’s written words in Colossians 3:18-21 is that it shows us what will happen if we allow Colossians 3:12-17 to work within our souls. I left out the best part of the scripture. I eliminated the end part which actually negated the first part. If I am not willing to show the fruits of God’s work in my heart, then I am basically pushing God out of my heart and allowing evil to rule. Scary, huh?
I am not saying I am perfect at submission. What I try to tell myself when I am in the middle of an argument with a loved one is: I am oppressing someone I love if I don’t let go of my selfish desire to win. That usually does the trick. None of us want to oppress the people we love. None of us want to make others feel unworthy. None of us want to cause undue hurt to our family. When we don’t allow God to melt away our stubbornness and our selfish desires to win, then we are only hurting those that we love.
Go ahead today and submit to someone you love! Just allow God take over the desire to win and allow humility to rule your heart. Remember that when you are truly humbling yourself, God will show His Glory in wondrous ways! Everyone wins!