Key Verse: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
—Ephesians 5:21, New International Version
IF WE DESIRE TO BE FAITHFUL to our covenant with the Lord, our Key Verse gives us a much-needed element for success—submission. The development of submission is one of the greatest challenges in our Christian walk, because it requires the suppression of our will, our preferences, our human or earthly values. In short, it requires selflessness instead of selfishness. That is something that runs counter to the mind of the flesh.
Submission is greatly aided by continually acknowledging Christ as our Head. This is the practical application of the operative phrase in our Key Verse—“out of reverence for Christ.” The headship of Christ must ever be at the forefront of our thinking. “He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” (Col. 1:18, English Standard Version) Submission to one another consists of the ability to listen to others’ views without feeling that we must always have a come-back. Love for our brethren behooves us to try to understand their thoughts so that dialogue is possible.
While there are some features of God’s plan that are fundamental, some may think that their viewpoint is of absolute importance, and will argue it to the extreme, even to the point of division. In the Epistle to the Colossians, Paul speaks of those who were attempting to subjugate the church in his day: “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.”—Col. 2:18,19, ESV
Out of reverence for the headship of Christ we should remain loyal to his great mission statement regarding our faith. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”—John 13:34,35, ESV
Christ’s headship is his caring and guiding influence in our lives. “Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” “No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.”—Eph. 5:23,25,29,30, ESV
We note these further words from the Apostle Paul: “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”—Phil. 2:1-5, ESV
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves.” “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves his fellow-man has fulfilled the law.” (Rom. 12:10; 13:8, NIV) Thus, by exercising the proper reverence for Christ, we will bear the fruitage of our covenant of love.