The Humble Side of Submission
by Stephanie Olson, Co-founder Set Me Free Ministries
Last week we explored the idea of submitting to spiritual authority, which is never a fun subject. By the end of the blog, I had the gall to mention humility! Humility is an even less fun subject, if you ask me. Yet, humility and pride are subjects that the Bible seems to mention over and over again—humility and pride, humility and pride. Why in the world is this so important to God?
Because true humility means that we understand that we are not God and that He is! David Wilkerson, the late Christian pastor and author, says this about humility: “Only total and complete trust makes a person humble. This means having no agenda, no self-will and forfeiting all rights. It also means knowing who has power for all things and turning to him in faith for his supply. Genuine trust doesn't stop at saying, 'I'm weak.' It also declares, 'He is strong.' Such dependent trust requires humility." (Pulpit Series Newsletter – A Passion for Christ, Nov. 14, 2011)
Pride declares itself in many different manifestations, and none of us are exempt. In fact, the minute you don’t think you have a problem with pride, it has just reared its ugly head. Yet, so often we view pride only as wanting to glorify ourselves. Yes, this is a very common view of pride. Do we want all of the accolades when we have accomplished something that Christ helped us achieve? Do we make a point of telling people we were the ones who did a certain task, just in case they didn’t notice? Do we feel less important when we are not in such a prominent position? These are all examples of pride, aren’t they? And when we look at what true humility is, it is not about what we desire but what we are doing for Christ. It’s not about us but about Him!
But God reminded me, just yesterday, that pride can also look very different. Sometimes pride can sneak up in a way that instead looks like someone who appears to be trusting God but isn’t really ready to surrender every bit to Him. It’s saying, “God, I have this all under control, and I will let you know when I need Your help.”
And yet, even Jesus—God in flesh—said, “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father sent Me.” (John 5:30) It’s all about obedience and surrender to Him, because in the Body of Christ, we are never lone rangers. It’s never about us.
The Body of Christ is, of course, likened to our human body. Christ is the head, something we certainly can’t do without; however, what about the most obvious body parts? The hands, the feet, the arms, the legs—these are some of the most prominent parts of the body, and yet, they're all body parts we can live without. What about those less prominent parts of our body? The heart, the lungs, the internal organs—the ones we can’t see, and yet, if we were without many of these, we wouldn’t be able to survive. Such is the Body of Christ. Many of us are clamoring to get to those more prominent roles (the pulpit, the worship leader/singer, the leader), but it’s those people who are often “behind the scenes” that the Body of Christ thrives on.
What about the man who is being obedient to Christ and praying fervently for the missionaries who are risking their lives spreading the Gospel to other nations? What about the woman who makes meals for the poor and needy, and no one even knows she does it? What about the youth who sacrifices his Saturdays to serve meals at the homeless shelter, not for recognition or credits, but simply because he feels called by Christ? It is this kind of humility that we must strive for.
What about you and me? How is God calling us to submission? How is God calling us to obedience? How is God calling us to serve Him? David Wilkerson also said, “If you want to pursue Jesus with passion, your life will become a laboratory for the whole body of Christ. God will allow you to endure things that have nothing to do with your own life but that are lessons for his church. Right now, you may wonder why you're facing certain trials that simply don't make sense. It may be that the Lord is using your example to minister to the larger body. He is constantly at work in you, conforming you to the image of his Son. And that divine work in you is meant to spark others to obedience." (Pulpit Series Newsletter – A Passion for Christ, Nov. 14, 2011)
That is why we must be willing to submit. True humility, true submission is about recognizing that we serve a Sovereign God who knows what is best. Knowing that we serve a God who has a purpose—for us, yes, but not just for us; also for the Kingdom of God.
“We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6 NLT)