There are two ways to submit. Both of them are good, but one is better than the other. It is better to submit grimly, even with resentment, than not to submit at all. But it is far better to submit as cheerfully and sincerely as we possibly can. We do it, not because the other person is better, not because we are cowards, not because we are weak - we do it because, in our mind's eye, we see God on His throne.
Our submission is always a response to Him. So we can do it with a smile, with gracious courtesy, and with determination. God makes the point very clearly that, even though a person has done wrong in abusing us, we do not have the right to retaliate. God expects us to submit cheerfully as an act of faith.
There is another reason why God wants us to do this. When a person retaliates, his mind is never pure. There is revenge and anger in him, even vindictiveness. And contrary to the saying, revenge is not sweet; it is a poison that breeds war! If an injured or abused person does not lower his standard to that of the abuser, God is free to work-the oppressor might even be changed to the high standard of the oppressed.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Submitting (Part 2)
Is God involved in our lives? Paul is bringing the example of Christ, and His attitude toward those who were in authority, all the way down to an employment level. In Ephesians 5:21, he brought it down to a relationship within a congregation. But in both cases, the submitting was done out of respect for God—not because the authority was great, not because the person was a better man or woman—in fact, it had nothing whatever to do with the character of the person in authority.
Our submission has everything to do with our relationship to God, what we know of Him, and the purpose He is working out. The biblical definition of submission is clear. This instruction is in perfect harmony with Romans 12 where he says, "Live with all men in peace," as well as, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay!"
Submission is an act of faith. It has nothing at all to do with the quality of character of the person to whom we are submitting. It does not matter whether he is a good or a bad guy. It does not matter whether or not we feel what he is doing is unjust. It may be very unjust—as the taking of Christ's life was very unjust. But Christ submitted to whatever God permitted—out of fear, out of respect, out of faith that God had Him in His hands and nothing would happen before its time. He knew God was concerned about the outcome of His life.
So then, biblical submission is respecting divinely appointed authority out of respect for Christ.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Submitting (Part 1)