True Submission: Renewing The Mind (October)

Fall Bouquet

“Limiting my freedom in
order not to offend the tastes
of those whom God has
called me to serve.”
{IBLP definition of deference}

Greetings dear Sisters in the Lord!

I am so enjoying the beautiful, crisp weather the Lord has given us here in Kansas this month. It’s hard to believe it is already this time of year – it seems like spring was just yesterday. This is just a very needed reminder to me of how fleeting each day and season is. It spurs me to focus more deeply on my walk with Christ and to ask myself what needs growth.

This month, I’d like to share some thoughts on a topic that is rarely a strength for women – submission and deference. A result of a lack of this trait, the feminist movement has developed and a general decaying of our entire culture has quickened, for the choices women make have a great impact on the world!

This morning in my devotions with my heavenly Father, I was yet again struck with the importance of our calling as women. Some key words in 1 Timothy relating to women were a need reminder for me.

“I will therefore that men pray every where,
lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
In like manner also, that women adorn
themselves in modest apparel…”
{1 Timothy 2:8-9}

I noticed especially that phrase, “In like manner also,” which I believe refers back to the previous verse which says that we should lift “up holy hands.” That sums up our calling as women – that we be holy and pure, submissive, lifted up as sacrifices of praise for the Lord. Holiness. What a comprehensive, all-encompassing term. Are we holy – undefined by the world in mind, thoughts, heart, deeds, appearance?

Further reading, verse 11 is a very stark command: “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.” Taking God’s Word as truth in complete obedience, what a reminder – and don’t we women need it, who are so prone to talk and talk! – to humbly glean from the men in our lives and to joyfully sit under their authority, learning from what they teach. Women are more gullible and easy to be enticed, as we see from our first mother, Eve’s example, when she did not listen to her God-given authority, but decided to listen to someone else (the tempter), and to take his word for her command. “The serpent beguiled Eve…” (2 Corinthians 11:3) Hence the complete fall of mankind. “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Genesis 3:16). The pain and sorrow and struggle that we find in submission is part of the curse.

Shouldn’t we as redeemed daughters of Christ seek to learn from this most grievous example of Eve and strive to obey His command to submit? Following are some things I have learned about submission, and not simply submission outwardly, but also submission of the heart – deference. That is the real key!

call to true submission

Submission is a choice.
The desires of our authority often will conflict with our own.
However, we must be READY
to give ours up and take theirs,
and in this obedience
to God’s commands,
we will find great fulfillment and blessing.

The more the Lord graciously grows me in His truths, the more I realize how much I must yet learn in being submissive – and find how difficult it truly is! True heart submission starts in our thoughts, hence our attitude. Since we are fallen creatures, we naturally want to resist authority. Am I the only who is tempted to scorn the advice of those wiser than myself at times? Or resist the authority God has placed over my life? This is not only a sin against my parents, but also rebellion against God Himself, for His will is that I honor my parents and submit to my authorities; when I resist, I am rebelling against the powers of protection He has ordained over me.

Maybe you can relate to one of these examples.

»Annie has a favorite shirt that is warm and comfortable. DUring the cold winter months, she wears it almost every day! One afternoon, her mom says, “You know, I really don’t like the way that shirt fits!” While she is not forbidding Annie from continuing to wear it, her comment is a hint and an opportunity for Annie to show deference toward her mom as her authority, by ridding her closet of its presence. Annie is faced with several choices: to ignore Mom’s comment; to complainingly throw it away, or to joyfully give it away with honor.

»Joyce is scrubbing the dinner dishes, wanting to practice a piano piece once she has completed her clean-up duties. Just when she was almost done, her dad walks in a suggests an outdoor exercise walk in the moonlight. While Joyce likes to walk and spend time with her family, she resists the change in her plans and she struggles to willingly join the family for the walk. Will she choose to lay aside her plans and enjoy this special time, or will she balk and drag her feet?

My sister, we daughters face these kinds of decisions almost every day, don’t we? So what do we do when the desires and plans of others conflict with our own? Will we gladly, in a heart of joyful surrender to the will of CHrist, give up our own desire, or will we resist? How do we develop a true heart of submission?

Well, in all honesty, we can’t. We are sinful, fallen humans outside of the changing work of the Holy Spirit. Thus, we cannot learn any good thing outside of His enabling power! The only thing we can do is to fall down on our knees, realizing that we are failing in His calling to submit to our father and mother, and knowing that He has called us to do so (“Honour thy father and thy mother” –Ex. 20:12), admitting that we are sinning against His Holy name, and express our desire to honor Him. Then we must cry out to Him to take our heart of stone away and renew it to be moldable and submissive to His will, which in reality is honoring and submitting to our parents.

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands,
as it is fit in the Lord.”
{Colosians 3:18}

My prayer these past few months, my desperate cry to my merciful God, has been for just this – for the Lord to change my hard heart, for I have found over and over again how I fail. How often am told to do something – or simply hear the desires of my authority which happen to conflict with my own will – and bend my back backwards in resistance (in my heart). Most of the time of course, I don’t actually rebel outwardly, but nevertheless that lack of submission is still there, and you better believe God sees it! It is still a terrible sin. Thus, I rely on my faithful Father to change me. However, there are some choices that I do have to take toward growth.

keys to submission
When an unsubmissive thought or attitude crops up, here is how I am striving to train my mind to viciously attack my sinful thoughts:

»Turn from my sin – know it is wrong.
“Oops! That thought/attitude certainly was not submissive.”

»Confess it to God – ask for forgiveness immediately
“Lord Jesus, help me! I am not honoring your name or being submissive!”

»Ask for a changed, broken heart – even if I maybe do not want it at that moment, I know I need it; He can work in me when I ask for it
“Heavenly Father, I am resisting authority and my heart is hard; please, in your mercy, melt my will to fit your mold!”

»Be quiet – don’t further the sin by letting it come out in words, actions, or a bad attitude. If needed, go to another room and pray, until that lump of resistance dissolves from my throat and the Lord has dominion over my will

We must develop a habit of this because submission is going to be a life-long struggle for all of us, sadly. We were born with the sin nature and it is not leaving anytime soon (not until we reach Heaven!), but as Christ Jesus works out His perfect work of sanctification in our lives, it definitely can be lessened as each day goes by and we stop to ask for His power.

I know it is vital that I really attack my sins now because weeds only grow larger – thus, harder to extract. Furthermore, a wife is called to reverence her husband and she cannot do that if she is not submitting to him. If God calls me to be a wife someday, I wish to obey God’s command to honor and submit to my Head, my husband, that the Word of God be not blasphemed. “To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:5). And it will not be any easier then than now, so what better time to start plucking away at that nasty sin?

steps to submission
Let’s gather our hoes and shovels – or swords if that is what it requires! – and attack the weeds in our heart and pray for humble, willing hearts that are pliable to His will – not stiffly set upon our own!

“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder.
Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility:
for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”
{1 Peter 5:5}

Remember that God giveth grace to the humble but resisteh the proud! A submissive heart is a heart of gold. God bless you dear one!

Falling Before His Throne,

3 c o m m e n t s »

samantha»Thank you for sharing your heart with us this month, Sarah!
Your thoughts on submission really spoke to my heart. I feel this is an area which God has really been speaking to me this year. For me, submission has gotten easier in some ways over the years as I’ve grown up and “matured”. But it’s also gotten harder as I grow older as well. God has shown me that it all starts in the heart. And sometimes submission means sacrifice too.

tessa» Your Monthly Thought was really encouraging and thought provoking.  Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to share with us.  I really appreciate it.  “May God be gracious to you and bless you and make his face shine upon you.” Psalm 67:1

martha joy » Thank you so much for this, Sarah Lee! As always, you have been such an encouragement to me through this month’s article. Thank you for being what you are for me, Sarah! In Him, Martha Joy (Psalm 69:16)

sarah lee  »Thank you so much, dear Samantha, Tessa and Martha Joy, for your thoughts on this topic. It’s a blessing to hear of your own journey in this area of submission. It certainly seems to be on-going for me! I pray God blesses you and keeps you diligently walking in His perfect ways as you seek Him – Psalm 66:16.