In our previous blog, we discussed how Jesus gave us the Gift of Submission. We saw how important it is and was in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. We learned to submit, means to yield the right of way to, give up rights to, let go of power or will to, to be subject to, and come under the authority of. No longer our wills but our Lord’s will being done.
I would like to pose a question to you, “Do we submit to someone in authority who is mean, disrespectful, obnoxious, insensitive to our needs, uncaring, disobedient to the authority in their lives, doesn’t revere or believe in God, and take advantage of people?” What if they are your parents, husband, boss, teacher, government official, or police officer? This is a question I struggled with in my earlier years in my walk with my Lord. I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do.
Growing up in the projects, some of the authority figures around me were abusive, insensitive, used and took advantage of those who appeared weak and vulnerable. One authority figure was my father. He was a rebel who defied authority and as a consequence was in and out of jail most of my childhood. I grew up with the same mindset as my father; I obeyed authority only when it benefitted me. I was a child who hated boundaries and the word ‘no.’ You can imagine the struggles and problems I had throughout my life. My great-grandmother used to say, “A hard head makes a soft butt.” In other words, when I didn’t listen to instruction or correction, then consequences of the rod (a whipping) would follow. Yes, I got a lot of those but they never deterred my rebellious behavior.
Because I felt my mother wasn’t sensitive to my needs and it was her way or no way, I wasn’t going to listen to her either. My mother was a single parent and worked a lot, so I sneaked out of the house a lot and disobeyed her instructions. I whined, pouted, and manipulated situations to get my way. My life was shaped around what I wanted and believed what I deemed as right and wrong.
As I studied the book of Proverbs in the Amplified Bible, it talked about the wise man and the foolish man (I also call the knucklehead, like I was) and the difference between the two. Let me share a few scriptures that stood out to me:
Proverbs 15:5 – A [flippant, arrogant] fool (knucklehead) rejects his father’s instruction and correction, BUT he who [is willing to learn and] regards and keeps in mind a reprimand acquires good sense.
Proverbs 15: 6 – Trouble is the income of the wicked one (who rejects the laws and instructions of God).
Proverbs 10: 17 – He who learns from instruction and correction is on the (right) path of life (and for others, his example is a path toward wisdom and blessings). BUT he who ignores and refuses correction goes off course (and for others his example is a path toward sin and ruin.)
It took me years walking with the Lord before I graduated from the School of Knuckleheads. I want to share with you the hard lessons I learned about submitting to authority.
In school, I had teachers I liked and who liked me. Those I didn’t like, I rarely did my homework and I always had excuses for missing their classes. Excuses are sometimes a wonderful way of hiding and saying, “No I don’t want to do what you ask and you can’t make me.” I made up a lot of excuses not to comply.
When I had a boss I didn’t like, I learned from my dealings with my parents and teachers how to maneuver with excuses. I quit a lot of jobs because I didn’t like my boss. When I became older I got very good at it. I could make up a lie in a heartbeat with tears in my eyes and not blink an eyelash. In the School of Knuckleheads, I learned some amazing strategies and techniques to get what I wanted and keep others from getting what they wanted. I was on the Honor Roll in the School of Knuckleheads… and was proud of it!
When I got married to my Beloved Tony, I was getting A’s in the School of Knuckleheads and thought I could manage marriage the same way I managed life beforehand. By this time, I had given my life to the Lord but wasn’t ready for Jesus Christ to be the boss of me (my Lord), just my Savior from hell. Tony was a different breed; I never realized I was still taking elementary classes in the School of Knuckleheads while Tony had gotten his Master’s degree from the streets of New York in Knuckleheadology. I wasn’t going to listen nor obey his suggestions, so when we had disagreements I tried playing on his emotions, making him feel sorry for me, cried, made excuses, ignored him, or left the room… Tony stood his ground; none of my techniques worked on him. Then Tony brought out the BIG GUN; he said, “What does the Word of God say about your behavior, not what I say or think?” Uh oh, I was in trouble! I never wanted to know what God said because the flesh didn’t want to obey. The REAL ME IN CHRIST loves to obey my Father so I cried out to the Lord to change me.
ALL THOSE IN AUTHORITY
I gave my heart to my Lord in 1979; in 1982 the Lord said, “It is time to leave your childish rebellion behind and it’s time to SUBMIT TO ALL THOSE IN AUTHORITY IN YOUR LIFE FROM YOUR HEART… ALL AUTHORITY POSITIONS ARE ESTABLISHED BY ME.” Then He put the right bosses and authority figures in my life to make these scriptures real to me… ouch so painful! Here are a few scriptures from the Amplified Bible He molded me with:
Romans 13:1 – Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God [granted by His permission and sanction], and those which exist have been put in place by God.
Ephesians 6:1 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord [that is, accept their guidance and discipline as His representatives], for this is right [for obedience teaches wisdom and self-discipline]. Honor [esteem, value as precious] your father and your mother [and be respectful to them]—this is the first commandment with a promise— so that it may be well with you, and that you may have a long life on the earth. …
Ephesians 6:6 – Not in the way of eye-service, working only when someone is watching you and only to please men BUT as slaves of Christ. Doing the will of God FROM YOUR HEART. (EVEN IF they are mean, disrespectful, treating you unfairly, and contrary… you are pleasing Me, not man).
I Peter 3:1 – In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate, not as inferior, but out of respect for the responsibilities entrusted to husbands and their accountability to God, and so partnering with them] so that even if some do not obey the word [of God], they may be won over [to Christ] without discussion by the godly lives of their wives, 2 when they see your modest and respectful behavior [together with your devotion and appreciation—love your husband, encourage him, and enjoy him as a blessing from God].
I Corinthians 11:3 – But I want you to understand that Christ is the head (authority over) of EVERY MAN, and man is the head of woman, and God is the head of Christ. (No matter if that man acknowledge Christ as His head and authority)
Proverbs 21:1– The king’s (president’s) heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it whichever way He wishes.
I Timothy 2:2 – (Don’t murmur or complain) BUT… pray for kings and all who are in [positions of] high authority, so that we may live a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
I have stopped resisting, murmuring, and complaining about the authority in my life given to me by God. I have embraced each one and gave my complaints to my Lord when I felt I wasn’t being heard, misunderstood, any injustice, or others being treated unfairly. I discovered over the years as I turned to the Lord and submitted to the authorities in my life, the peace and grace of God prosper in my heart and life. When I didn’t, fear, anger, and darkness prevailed.
Should we submit to the authorities in our lives? Oh yes, because all positions of authority in our lives are ordained by God regardless of what the character of the person who occupies the roles. We submit, never to please man but as pleasing our Lord who is the Lord and Authority Over All!
**However, our Father never wants us to be used or abused physically or mentally by those in authority. He will guide us on how to handle these situations with wisdom and grace.