In our modern society, the concept of submission often makes people uneasy, and to some, it can even be seen as a negative quality. While some may argue that submission is a complete disregard of one’s own identity, the Bible teaches us that submission is a good thing. It is choosing to surrender one’s desire for the good of another, ultimately for the benefit of both. In the Scriptures, we are presented with the profound paradox of submission. It is in submission to God and others that we discover the truest freedom.
Let’s first consider submission to God through two verses. First, Proverbs 3:5-6, which says, "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." And second, James 4:7, which says, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Here we are presented with two truths about submission: that submission is all about trust and also that submission is a two-step process, turning towards God and turning away from everything that opposes Him.
Consider the example of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. Facing the imminent and immense pain of the cross, He prayed, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt" (Matthew 26:39). Here, Christ demonstrates the highest form of submission – surrendering His will to the Father for a greater purpose despite the difficulty in doing so.
Submission is not about losing our personal identity or agency. It’s about aligning our desires with God’s perfect will. When we submit our plans, fears, and dreams to God, we are never left empty-handed or abandoned without a purpose or meaning. When we surrender our plans, we are given peace and direction through God’s guidance. It’s like a river surrendering to its natural course. What begins as individual drops without a defined path eventually accumulates into a small stream and continues to unify until it becomes a mighty river with strength in its current and clear direction in its flow.
Consider Abraham, who in Genesis 22:2 was told, "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of." Abraham’s submission to God’s seemingly impossible request was not a blind resignation but a deep trust in God’s goodness and promises in what came ahead. Though Abraham deeply loved his son Isaac, He trusted God’s plan was greater than his own, knowing that although he did not know what God was doing in that moment, God would ultimately provide an escape for his son in the end.
Let us also consider how submission extends to our relationships with others. Ephesians 5:21 instructs us, "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God," and again in Philippians 2:3-4, "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." Our mutual submission to our peers fosters respect, understanding, and unity, and reflects God’s love in our interactions.
So how do we live out this principle? It starts with a daily decision to trust God’s plan over our own. When faced with decisions, big or small, we can ask for God’s guidance through prayer, knowing that His wisdom far surpasses our own. When we face conflicts with others, we can choose humility over pride and value harmony over being acknowledged as right.
As we learn to submit to God and to one another, we will find that submission is not a burden but a blessing. It brings clarity, purpose, and a deep sense of peace, knowing that we are in the hands of a loving God who has great plans for us.
Let us then embrace submission, not as a loss, but as a gateway to a deeper relationship with God and those around us. Because in this submission, we find true freedom and joy.