The Price of Submission
Police visited Vladimir, a resident of Berlin Germany. They confiscated his air raid siren because neighbors were complaining about it’s piercing wail. Which may leave you asking the question, “Why did Vladimir have an air raid siren to begin with?”
It’s simple: Vladimir was tired of his wife’s loud argument, so he came up with a way to silence her. CNN reported that he wired a 220 plug to his ceiling and hooked up an old air raid siren. He explained (if there really is an explanation for such a thing!):
My wife never lets me get a word in edgeways, so I crank up the siren and let-er-rip for a few minutes. It works everytime. Afterwards, its real quiet!.
What did his wife of 32 years have to say about all of this? She actually said something like, “Well, if you were married to a stubborn mule like my husband, you’d get loud too!”
Boy! Those relationships can be tough, can’t they? You may have even realized the need to work on your relationship, but you find that, no matter how many times you resolve to do things differently, it’s much easier said than done.
One husband, aware that his constant arguing with his wife was ruining their relationship, tried to explain his inability to stop provoking her by looking at her and saying:
“Change don’t come easily.”
“Doesn’t” she said, correcting his English.
Misunderstanding her, he said, “Doesn’t what?”
“Come easily,” she said. “Change doesn’t come easily.”
“So you are agreeing with me?” asked the husband.
The wife answered, “Yes, but . . .”
“ Then why didn't you just say, ‘I agree’?” he asked.
“But I . . .” started the wife, but he cut her off.
“We're always arguing,” he said.
“I'm not arguing”.
“Yes, you are.”
“No, I'm not.”
“Then what is it we're doing?”
“Honestly, I have no idea,” she said
Driving his point home, the husband said, “ Well whatever it is, I'm sick of it, and it needs to change!”
To which his wife quipped, “To quote a wise man, ‘Change don't come easily.’”
Still not getting it, the husband said, “Exactly!”
Another married couple had a quarrel and ended up giving each other the silent treatment. A week into their mute argument, the man realized he needed his wife's help. In order to catch a flight to Chicago for a business meeting, he had to get up at 5 a.m.
Not wanting to be the first to break the silence, he wrote on a piece of paper, "Please wake me at 5 a.m."
The next morning the man woke up only to discover his wife was already out of bed, it was 9 a.m., and his flight had long since departed. He was about to find his wife and demand an answer for her failings when he noticed a piece of paper by the bed.
He read, "It's 5 a.m. Wake up."
Conflict can be humorous, but that’s usually when its happening to someone else. All of us can recognize and be amused by foolish pride that displays it’s presence so readily in the lives of others. I can shake my head in amused amazement at your refusal to concede some minor point, but, when my point’s on the line, it suddenly becomes pretty important. If we are not careful, we sacrifice our relationships on a thousand altars of insignificant disagreements and, when the chips are down, we find ourselves alone without the support our obstinance has sacrificed.
Which may be why Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote about the importance of the “s” word. I’m talking about that word not of us want to say and fewer of us want to do. I’m talking about “submission.” By the way, the “s” word is definitely related to the “h” word: “humility.” Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:5 that these two words are the keys to maintaining and developing the relationships that see us through difficult circumstances. He writes:
5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
Now, to really understand the context of this paragraph, you have to remember that Peter was writing a war plan. He was preparing these people for the battle of persecution they were about to undergo. To these endangered people he writes these words to let them know that, in the middle of battle, they’d better have some close comrades on whom they can depend. Otherwise, the enemy will divide and conquer. In order to build these relationships, they must mutually submit.
Now, when you hear that, you might really be uncomfortable. Rugged individualism defines Americans. Dependence is for the weak. Only weak-minded sycophants submit. That’s what our culture teaches us and because that is true, I want you to really listen this morning. It could be that the culture has corrupted your thinking and you aren’t even aware of it. It could just be that the next few moments could begin a re-programming of your world view that could make the difference in your survival as a sold-out follower of Christ.
And if our thinking is skewed, surely our actions will be compromised. In fact, the thought that we must fight out battles alone and fend for ourselves by ourselves is the opposite of what Peter teaches us here. There is an action which we can take, which many people miss, to practice the kind of submission that allows us to stand against the onslaught of our world. So I want you to listen to what Peter tells us to do here in this passage.
If you and I are to build the strong relationships that make us unshakable in the midst of persecution and trouble, we must practice that “s” word: We must submit. The question is “how?” How can we, in a world that values pride over humility and independence over submission, how can we biblically submit?
Peter tells us, here, two actions we must take. In the first place, if we are to submit
DIV 1: THERE ARE SOME THINGS WE MUST BELIEVE THAT
EXP: ORDER IS NON-NEGOTIABLE
Quite frankly, this is where the battle begins: In our thinking! And the first thing, Peter tells us in these verses contradicts the prevalent philosophy of our time. You see the first thing you must believe in is the order God has established. 1 Pet. 5:5 says: Likewise you younger, submit yourselves to your elders. Now, we might have a little more tolerance for this particular manifestation of God’s order. God has established the necessity of leadership within the body of Christ and, in that order, the younger, less experienced members of the body of Christ, are to yield to the wisdom and leadership of those whom God has ordained to lead.
Most of us would have no problem with that in theory. But when it is time to practice it, its another matter. Our society has taught us that all opinions, no matter their truthfulness, have equal validity. Everyone is right and no one is wrong. The only person who might be wrong are those who think others are wrong, for then they have become intolerant.
This is precisely why the public school system is in such disarray and Johnny can’t learn. It’s simple. Johnny can’t learn because to even say Johnny needs to learn is to say that Johnny’s ignorance is somehow inferior to his teacher’s knowledge and that, in our relativistic culture, is something which, at worst cannot be challenged and, at best, must be tip-toed around.
Peter will have none of it. In the church he says that the elders are in charge and the younger members, and those who are not in leadership are to submit. That is the order God has established and, if you and I are to submit, we must believe that God’s right and the culture is wrong!
Now hang onto your hat, because this is not the only place God talks about submission. You see, some of us have no trouble buying God’s order when we’re talking about younger and older, but we struggle with it when we talk about other relationships.
• In Romans 13 and, we are told to submit to our governmental leaders, no matter if they are Democrat, Republican, Tea Party, right, wrong, or indifferent!
• In Eph 5:22, wives are told to submit to their husbands, whether they are saved or lost, reasonable or unreasonable, right or wrong.
• In Eph 5:24, the church is told to submit to Christ, whether it satisfies the culture or bucks what popular opinion.
• In 1 Tim 2, women are told to submit to male headship within the body of Christ.
I realize that’s not popular. I realize that is called out of step and ignorant, but I believe that God has established order within the home, within the church and within society and, when we violate that order, we step out of His will and out of His blessing. And if you and I are ever to submit to God, we must start by accepting the order that He has established.
And I realize a sermon like this may raise more questions than it answers. When I say that we are to accept God’s established order and submit, just what does that mean? Well, in the home, it means that husbands are to lead in love and wives are to honor their husband’s leadership. That doesn’t mean that wives do not help make decisions or offer opinions. A man who is leading in love will not arbitrarily force things down his family’s throat. He will lead by example and influence. But, make no mistake, women. Your job is to honor your husband’s leadership in the home. God put him there to lead.
I read of one man who read a book entitled, Man of the House, while he was riding the train to and from work. On the evening he finished the book, this newly “enlightened” husband stormed into his home and confronted his wife. Pointing his finger in her face, he said, "From now on, I want you to know that I am the man of this house, and my word is law. Tonight you are to prepare me a gourmet meal and a sumptuous dessert. Then, when I’m done eating, you're going to draw me a bath so I can have a relaxing soak. And when I'm finished with my bath, guess who's going to dress me and comb my hair?"
His wife responded, "My guess would be the funeral director."
And this submission thing also means, children, that you are also to be in submission in the home. Even when you think your mom or dad is wrong, God has put them in their position to lead you and you are to follow them.
And what does this look like in the workplace? Well, bosses are to lead by example, love, and accountability. You are not to lord your authority over those who work for you, but you are to approach them with compassion. That doesn’t mean that you can’t rebuke, them, but it does mean you are to love them. And employees, you are to submit with integrity and an ultimate loyalty to Christ.
And what does this look like in school. Well, teachers, you are to lead and teach with great integrity and superior knowledge. Students are to learn with great focus and accountability. Wow! Does that sound as foreign to you as it does to me? Teenagers, you are not to make fun of your teacher, you’re to respect and honor them. Submission begins with what I believe. If I really believe that God’s order works and that it is what I am to do, I can submit.
But not only must I believe that God has established order, I must also believe
EXP -HUMILITY IS MUTUAL
At first glance that may seem to contradict everything I just said. I just finished saying that God has established an order in the home and in the church, and that this order should be observed. That means some will have the responsibility to lead, and others will have the responsibility to follow. Everyone has the same value to God, but everyone does not have the same role in His kingdom. Now I’m turning around and telling you that true humility is everyone’s business, not just those who have no leadership roles. How can you harmonize this apparent contradition?
Well in the first place, humility is for everyone because in God’s economy, leadership is service. In the first part of this chapter, Peter tells leaders that their mission is to “shepherd” the flock. That implies service because, if you understand anything about a shepherd, you know that what he does for sheep can only be called service. And just in case you missed it, Peter says categorically that we are not to “lord” our authority over others, but serve them with humility. And it’s not just Peter who said it. Jesus also said that “whoever would be greatest among you will be the servant of all.” Humility doesn’t end when you become a leader, it is only beginning.
And that is precisely why humility is everyone’s business. Quite simply, humility is everybody’s calling. Jesus commanded it, rewarded it, preached about it, and exemplified it while He was here. And, if you are to fulfill that calling and obey Him, there’s one more thing you must know.
Humility is everybody’s decision. Notice that we are told to “clothe” ourselves with humility. We must decisively determine to put on humility like we would put on our shirt. It is an act of the will that flows form one circumstance: A confidence in God that this humility thing is not just a recipe for ultimate disaster. No! This humility thing is the recipe for real success. If I am to be on the right side of this humility thing, this is what I must truly believe: That humility is an imperative decision that is everybody’s business.
Yet, even in the church, it is often rare, especially among our “celebrities.” I’ve heard the horror story of prima-donna pastors and persnickety Christian music stars. In fact, humility is so rare, we’re surprised when we find it.
Gordon MacDonald tells of one such moment:
It was in his earlier years when Billy Graham was in the prime of his fame and influence. At the time, MacDonald wan nothing more than an unknown seminary student. But one day, MacDonald was standing close when Billy Graham was talking. When it was over, he got his chance to meet Billy.
“Billy, I'd like you to meet Gordon MacDonald," my introducer said. MacDonald says:
I was a 24-year-old, scrawny, somewhat unpromising kid, struggling to pass basic seminary courses, and I was one of many being introduced to Billy Graham. What do I remember about that moment? That he fixed his piercing eyes upon me, extended his hand and said, "Mr. MacDonald, it's an honor to meet you." Mr. MacDonald! He addressed me as if I were a peer or someone "superior" to him. Oh, the dignity of the moment for me. For the space of about—I'm guessing—ten seconds, he connected with me and it seemed as if the two of us were the only people in the room. For weeks I bathed in that awesome moment in which this extraordinary man poured value into me.
Now, I’m sure that was quite a moment for MacDonald as it would be for any of us. But, it really speaks to the fact that we have missed the point of Peter’s writing. What was surprising in the behavior of Billy Graham was really nothing more than an obedience to scripture. You see, he was clothed with humility. And, humility is everybody’s business.
If you and I are really to submit, we must understand some truths about submission. First, God has established order and second, humility is everyone’s business. Then we must understand and fully believe . . .
EXP - HUMILITY IS ESSENTIAL
It is essential because it is the means of grace. Now right at the outset, let me hurry to tell you what I am not saying when I say that humility is the means of grace. I am not saying that the way you are to earn God’s favor or get to heaven is by having humility. That’s not it at all. Our salvation, indeed any gracious favor shown us by God is always the result of His own goodness not our merit or even our humility. God’s grace results from Who He is, not what we do.
However, Peter states very clearly in v 5 that “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” This verse means at least a couple of things. First, it means that God hates pride. Quite honestly, the thing that tops the list of the things God hates is pride. Prov 16:5 says that “everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord.” I think what this means is that, as long as I am proudly thinking that I can make it on my own (and that, by the way, is precisely what the proud person thinks), God doesn’t just refuse to help me, He actively resists me.
But the opposite is also true: When I humble myself and admit that I do not have the power to do it on my own, God gives me His grace. Now the humbling of myself is not a “work” I do. It, in fact, is the opposite of work. Humility, in this sense, means the absolute humility which says, “God, I cannot do it on my own! I desperately need You! To that person, the Bible says, God comes and helps Him.
Now here’s the deal: If I am to be able to submit to God, I must truly believe that it is the only means to His grace. I must come to understand that my futile efforts will get me nowhere. I can’t be smart enough; I can’t run fast enough; I can’t work hard enough to attain what I believe I need. Humility is the way and the only way to receive God’s grace.
Quite frankly, Christian, this is precisely the reason prayer is so important to our spiritual lives and to our active growth. At its root, prayer is a reflection of humility. When I am truly humbled and broken before God, I genuinely desire to pray. When I am caught up in my own ability or in my own efforts to achieve in the power of the flesh, I have no desire for prayer. If you want to know if you are humble before God, answer one question: How much do you pray?
I keep bringing this up only because I truly believe that this is the key to God’s grace. Peace Church, we’re in the opening of Upward Season. How are we going to reach these children with the Gospel? How are we going to avoid the million things that could go wrong and ruin us? How are we going to see timid coaches transformed into powerful evangelists? How are we going to see God use our witness in this program impact whole families for Christ? It is not through out awesome ability or even our great faithfulness and hard work. It is through prayer? Why because God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.
Peace Church, we’re about to begin construction on a new building which will house our children’s program and possibly a new daycare facility. How are we to raise 4 million dollars in a devastated economy? How are we to staff a growing nursery? How are we to equip a new staff with the skills of daycare? How are we to fill up a daycare program when there are so many others in Wilson? Most importantly, how are we to go beyond the run-of -the mill church daycare to one which genuinely turns daycare into an evangelistic opportunity? It is not because we have great educators as members of our church, although we certainly do? It is not because we have a great staff here who offer superior direction. It is not because we believe in excellence and we will seek to transfer that conviction to daycare. It is through prayer and brokenness. Why? Because God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.
And in your home, Humility is the means to grace! How are you to recapture that love for the wife who hurts you and is constantly putting your down? How are you to continue to commit yourself to that husband who has substituted pornography for his relationship with you? How are you to forgive the adulterous spouse who is seeking to return to a relationship with you? How are you to stay married to the man who never pays any attention to you but is in love with his work? How are you to be patiently discipline the wayward daughter who defies you at every turn? How are you to lovingly correct the lying son who has betrayed your trust time and time again? It will not be because you work up a feeling of love or grit out a smile or even doggedly hold your tongue. It will be through prayer and brokenness. The only way you’ll ever make it through these situations is through the grace of God and God opposes the proud and give s grace to the humble. Humility is the means to grace.
And, by the way, if you are here today and you have never really given your heart to Jesus Christ, I want you to know that humility and brokenness are your only hope of going to heaven. So many people today think that salvation is a contest. There are only so many slots open for people to get to heaven and God chooses who goes kind of like the lottery. Now the way God makes His choice is by comparing me to you. If God weighs us on the scales and I have a little less sin than you, then I get in, but you don’t.
That’s just not how God works. Salvation is not like that at all. You see, if we are to get to heaven, we must come to a place of complete brokenness and humility before God. We must give up trying in our own strength. We must stop trusting in our good works or in our ability and trust in Christ alone for eternal life. We must realize that all our goodnesses only look like a pile of smelly, dirty rags to God. That’s what the Bible says they are. It says that all the good things we can do to try to get to heaven are nothing but filthy rags in His sight. If we ever have a genuine relationship with Christ; if we ever get to heaven it will be because we stop trying and start trusting. We humble ourselves and say, “I’m a sinner, O God, I have nothing to offer you. I trust only in the work that Christ did for me on the cross.” And, I tell you, the person who does that is the person who receives grace. Why? Because God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. Humility is the means to grace.
But not only must we submit because we know that humility is the means to grace, we must also submit because we truly believe
EXP - GOD IS SOVEREIGN
V 6 draws the obvious conclusion from the fact that God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. The only conclusion that makes sense in that situation is humility. But notice to what we are to submit. It says that we are to humble ourselves “under the mighty hand of God.” By that description, Peter emphasizes the fact that God is omnipotent and that He is active. He is omnipotent because of the word “mighty;” He is active because of the word “hand.” Simply put, He is absolutely and actively in control of every single circumstance.
The question becomes, how can we change? You see, if I am to submit, I have to know that my God controls everything, else I cannot trust Him. But there’s also something else I have to know. Not only must I know that God controls everything, I also have to know:
EXP - GOD IS GOOD.
It’s like Peter is reading our minds! He goes on in v 7 to say that we are to cast all our care on God because this omnipotent, controlling God “cares for us.”
Now this causes us some confusion, because if we look at the circumstances of life seeking to discern God’s concern, it may be hard to trace out. Just ask the distraught mother who is watching her little baby struggle to breathe in the ICU if God cares and, in that moment, she may doubt.
There’s a reason for the confusion. We, in our short-sightedness, often confuse “goodness,” with “comfort.” That’s a tragic mistake. God has not promised us comfort in this life. In fact Jesus said that we would have “tribulation” in this world.
If you have watched the Chronicles of Narnia, that have been turned into movies lately, you get a good picture of what I am talking about. Aslan is the Lion of the Story and he is a picture of Christ. Aslan is the one who dies and comes back to life in the first book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, in order to rescue one of the characters. At the end of the story, Lucy, the heroine of the story is watching as Aslan walks away. She asks another character in the story. “Is He (Aslan) quite tame?” The character replies quickly, “O no! He is not tame! But He is good!”
That says it so well. You and I want a “tame” God. We want Him to be our “trick” lion. We want to get out the whip of our whim and the chair of our comfort and make Him do what we say. But, listen, He is not tame! He doesn’t obey our desire.
But, I tell you HE IS GOOD!
And what do I mean when I say that He is good. Well, when I say that, I mean that He is omniscient. He know everything and He knows what’s best. When I say He is good, I mean He is omnipotent. He controls all things and He can do what’s best. When I say He is good, I mean He is benevolent. That means He will do what’s best.
And what does all of this look like in your life? For instance, what does this mean for your home? Well, It means you can stop trying to control your wife and trust God to do what’s best in her life. It means that, though you never stop disciplining nor praying for your children, you can stop worrying about them. It means that you can stop trying to change your husband through your own manipulation and pray for God to work in His heart.
And how does all of this look at work? It means you can stop brown nosing your boss and trying to manipulate the raise. It means that, while you will work hard to reach your sales goals, you can stop worrying about the numbers. God is in control and He will act in your best interests.
And how does this look here at Peace Church? It means that we can trust God to guide us in this building program. Yes, things are difficult, but He’s brought us to this place for a reason! It means that we don’t have to sweat losing church members to other churches because God is working it for our good and His glory. It means that “He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
There may be times we are uncertain. There may be times we weep. There may be times we wonder if we’re going to make it in this life, but there is never a time for us to doubt our God. He is not TAME, but He is GOOD!
And what does that mean for you and me? Well, it means that we can do what v 7 tell us to do: We can “cast all our care on Him because He really does care for us.” And that, really, is the point of the passage: When I accept the order God’s established; When I understand that humility is for everyone and that it is the means of getting God’s grace; When I grasp that God is really in control and that He is not tame, but that He is good, I am able to let go of my life, humble myself and cast all of my care on Him.
Have you done that?
I still remember hearing Bro. Bert Tippett preach a message on this passage of scripture many years ago now. Little did I know at the time that I would be privileged to have his son as my partner in ministry, nor did I know that I would be treated to a front row seat as this man of God showed all of us how to live and how to die with confidence. I truly believe Bert exemplifed this passage. He accepted God’s order and submitted to God’s will. He knew humility was the means to God’s grace and he walked in humility. He never questioned God’s control nor his goodness. Even though I am sure that there were times of discouragement as he battled cancer, there was this sense of purpose, calm and even joy through it all.
After his funeral a couple of weeks ago, as I was getting ready to leave to come back home, I called Bob Bass, one of our members here, who was getting ready to have by-pass surgery. He told me that a few months ago, he had a conversation with Bert at Western Sizzlin. Bob said that he sensed that Bert was excited about getting to go and see Christ.
When Bro. Mike Gladson preached part of the funeral, he told us about his last conversation with Bert. He said that Bert motioned for him to come closer and he whispered in his ear. “Mike, this dying thing ain’t so bad.” Wow! Those are the words of a man who has cast all of his care on Jesus because he knows that Christ cares for him.
You see, that’s really the definition of submission. I’m no longer struggling to make things come out my way. I’m no longer laboring under the illusion of control. I don’t have to try to be in control because I truly know Who is: God! And since He is in control, I don’t have to be. I have surrendered. I have submitted and as a result, I am receiving His grace.
Have you done that?