Studying submission today for Bible class on Wednesday night. Every study starts for me with a cattle call of verses. Among the herd of “submit” verses I found this one in James chapter 3:
“… the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”
The wisdom from heaven is absolute. The wisdom from heaven is authoritative. The wisdom from heaven is powerful. The wisdom from heaven is… submissive?
When I look at this list I start thinking about how often I demand things—my rights, my fair share, what I deserve. I feel like because I’m right or because I’ve earned it, people need to listen to me, to respect me. And that’s why submission is so hard—because I feel entitled to lead or to choose or to take.
But entitlement is the enemy of submission.
Even God, all-powerful, always-right God, doesn’t exercise His entitlement to our love, our obedience or our respect. The wisdom from heaven is “considerate” and “peace-loving” and “submissive.”
Just think about Jesus’ ministry on earth. I feel like I’d probably have done it differently, what with thousands of angels at my command and unlimited supernatural power. I’d have made people listen. I’d have boomed and commanded and thrown my weight around. But Jesus—Jesus was submissive.
He had every right to do whatever He wanted, but for Jesus it wasn’t ever about His rights or what He deserved. It was about making room for our growth through His submission, about giving up power to empower us.
I can do the same thing for the people living alongside me. I can give up the power I think I deserve in order to empower the people around me. I can help them grow by stepping out of the way and giving them a place to grow into.