The Glory of Submission
“The greatest mission in the world is SUB-mission.” These words are attributed to J. Hudson Taylor, one of the greatest missionaries to China. There is a searching and challenging truth in them for each of our hearts. The life that proves this truth will be lived for the glory of God. The Word of God exemplifies the statement in the life of our Lord and also in the lives of His servants.
Our Lord’s Submission
His example is supreme and perfect! In His pre-existent glory He submitted to the will of His Father God, so that by incarnation and death He could accomplish the work of redemption. Here are His words to the Father before His humiliation: “Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me,) to do Thy will, O God” (Heb. 10:7).
In boyhood His submission to the will of God His Father was expressed by His obedience to Joseph and Mary. “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He was in subjection to them” (Luke 2:51, JND).
His submission to the baptism of John identified Him with the need of His people, Israel, although He Himself had no need for repentance (Matt. 3:13-17).
Christ also submitted to being “led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil” (Matt. 4:1-11).
To all the demanding needs of humanity, He willingly and unsparingly devoted Himself, both for individuals and for multitudes (John 4:34. Mark 1:32-45).
The climax of His perfect submission came in Gethsemane and at Calvary! It was there that He said, “Nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). Its finality was reached on the cross, when having borne all our sins and guilt, He exclaimed, “It is finished!” To signify the completion of His Father’s will, “He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30).
From the manger to the cross, the incomparable glory of Christ’s submission was evidenced with holy joy, obedient delight, and determined desire to do the will of His God and Father.
Personal loss and bereavement enter into the experience of all mankind. Job, the patriarch, lost his great wealth in one sweep of disaster; added to this was the bereavement of his ten children: a much greater loss. Yet, his priceless submission during the tragedy was evidenced by his conduct and words, “Job arose and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:20-22). To eulogize the Lord during such a circumstance is not easy, but it reveals the glory of submitting to the will of God! Verily, it has its reward; the end of the Book of Job reveals the double blessings which God gave him.
A child of God who passes through adverse circumstances can be cut to the quick by slander, curses, and evil epithets being cast upon him unjustly and hatefully. David tasted this wicked thing along with one of the deepest sorrows of his life (2 Sam. 16:5-14). To his grief were added the slanderous words and actions of Shimei as he gloated over David. Abishai, a mighty warrior of David immediately volunteered to “take off his head” in retaliation, being quite capable of doing so. Instead, “Let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him.” It takes a spiritual heart to discern God’s dealings in persecution, and, then, to wait in submission for the day of His vindication. God remembered the slander and in due time He acted in judgment, as revealed in 1 Kings 2:36-46.
In this day of grace, however, the Christian’s submission should be of an even higher order. “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:19-21).
It may be profitable to insert for our admonition the opposite of glory, the tragedy of submission (1 Sam. 3:11-18). How solemn that a servant of God should be judged and punished for his tolerance of evil! God had warned Eli previously, but His words were in vain.
When the inevitable judgment was sounded through Samuel, Eli said, “It is the Lord: let Him do what seemeth Him good.” Fine sounding words in themselves, but where is the glory in submitting to the visitation of God’s displeasure upon a faithless life? May this never be our experience; let us remember God’s word to Eli: “Them that honour Me I will honour, and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed” (1 Sam. 2:30).
Submission in God’s Assembly
Consider Paul’s words to the saints at Philippi: “Let your moderation (yieldedness or gentleness) be known to all men” (Phil. 4:5). The word “moderation” in the Greek signifies “forbearance,” a willingness to waive one’s rights.
The flesh insists on its rights, but this is precisely what causes strife and dissension amongst the Lord’s people. How different the course indicated by Peter: “All of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility” (1 Peter 5:5). We should be known for our yielding, and our willingness to waive our rights.
The Lord Jesus who had the most rights on earth never insisted upon them; He never sought to be recognized. Read about His example in Matthew 17:24-27. He who arranged the ages, He who is the Heir of all things, manifested the spirit of submission when He said to Peter, “Lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for Me and thee.”
In God’s assembly, the attitude of submission to one another will prevent the disasters wrought by envy, strife, and division. Our yieldedness towards others should always be in evidence. Let us subjugate the demands of the flesh, realizing that “The Lord is near. Be careful about nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses every understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7, JND).