Friday, December 19, 2008

Submission - Part 4: The Attitude of the Heart

In this fourth and last post on submission, we will be taking a look at what the attitude of our hearts should be when submitting. The definition ascribed to the word “submitting” by Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language gives a clear description of the heart attitude. Summarized, it states:

Submission is cheerfully yielding one’s will to the will and authority of another accompanied by humble and suppliant behavior without murmuring.

Two different aspects seem to especially stand out: one, that we are to submit cheerfully, and secondly, without murmuring . . .


Cheerfully


“In a cheerful manner; with alacrity or willingness; readily; with life, animation or good spirits.”*

How convicting this definition is! By it, we see that when we submit it is to be with joy, willingness, and in a cheerful manner (the opposite of this would be grudgingly with a negative or angry heart.) This type of true cheerfulness and joy comes from abiding in the Lord and walking in obedience to Him as Christ instructed:


My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John 15:8-11)

It is not our joy, but His joy shining through us as we submit to our fathers (or husbands) in obedience to our Lord. When thinking of how this cheerfulness and joy would be expressed in our lives, what comes to mind is a smile on the face, a quickness and readiness to fulfill whatever was directed (or whatever we know that he would desire), and a willing heart that is seeking to submit and serve the one whom the Lord has placed over us.


Several verses from Proverbs came to mind while writing this that seemed to relate rather well:


A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.” (Proverbs 15:13).

A wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.” (Proverbs 14:1)

It is better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and vexing woman.” (Proverbs 21:19)

By having a cheerful heart of submission, by not being contentious and vexing, and by building instead of tearing, our Lord will be glorified. The choice is ours to make – will we be ones who build up or tear down? Will we respond with contentiousness and vexation? Or with cheerfulness, love and joy?

Without Murmuring

Murmuring is: “uttering complaints in a low voice or sullen manner; grumbling; complaining”*

Complain is: “to utter expressions of resentment; to murmur; to find fault”*

I am sure that we all have been guilty of these two things at least at some point in our lives! Due to the sin nature of man, complaining and murmuring is a natural part of us. Paul, recognizing this, exhorted for followers of Christ to “Do all things without grumbling or disputing” (Philippians 2:14.) This is what we are to strive for . . . to do “all things” (including submitting) without grumbling or disputing.


Before we can overcome feelings such as these, though, we need to know the root cause of them. For how can we get rid of a noxious weed, without removing the root? It is the same with the negative attributes in our own lives. We need to discover the “root” of the problem so that we can work to remove it. So what is the root of a complaining and murmuring heart? It comes from selfishness, and in part, also a lack of trust in the Lord. Selfishness in that we are looking to satisfy our own wants and desires instead of following the exhortation in Philippians to “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;” (Philippians 2:3.) This chapter continues with the instruction to have the same attitude as did Christ who being God, humbled Himself to become a man even to the point of dying on the cross as "the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world." (1 John 2:2; see also John 1:29, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, Romans 5:1-21 [especially verses 18-19]). For He who knew no sin was made “to be sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21) that those who believe in Him might have “life in His name” (John 20:31).


And we are to follow His example of humility; we are to “follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21). We are to submit to our fathers (or husbands) in the same way that Christ submitted to the will of the Father. Cheerfully, willingly, completely and with readiness.


Another aspect that builds the foundation of a cheerful and non-murmuring heart is a resolute trust in the Lord. In His Word, God has given many promises, one of which is that:


“. . . we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

It is with promises such as this that we can have joy in our circumstances; that we can respond with cheerfulness and love when submitting to our fathers (or husbands). For the Lord is not a God who is far off, but a God who is near and who has promised to be our help and stronghold as we place our trust in Him. May each one of us rest on His promises relying on Him to give us the strength to submit cheerfully and willingly.


So the next time our fathers (or husbands) request or express their desire for something (such as the things mentioned in Part 3), let’s put a smile on our lips, a song of joy in our hearts, quick and willing hands ready to serve and bless, and a heart ready and willing to follow. Let us, as ladies striving to be obedient to the Lord, adorn ourselves with ornaments of great price that are precious to the Lord . . . let us adorn ourselves, as did the holy women of old, with the beautiful quality of submission.



In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external – braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” (1 Peter 3:1-6)

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything . . .” (Ephesians 5:22-24)


*
All definitions taken from Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language

**I would like to mention again that this series is in no way complete as there are several aspects of this area of submission that I do not yet fully understand, but I hope and pray that what was shared here was a blessing to you!


-Posted by Sarah

2 comments:

Abide in the Vine said...

Thank you for continuing the study on submission. I really enjoyed it! How true that submission must be from our hearts, not just on our lips and in our actions.
Anna

Follow In His Steps said...

Thank you so much for your comment, Anna! And for sharing those thoughts. It was wonderful hearing from you!

We are so glad this series was a blessing to you!