And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Ephesians 5:16-21

There are several things that should be true if we are filled with the Spirit of God. The concept is about being “filled” has an opposite counterpart here to illustrate the idea. Paul talks about not getting drunk with wine – people lose control of their abilities, intuition, common sense and inhibitions. Being filled with the Spirit is a life strongly influenced by the Spirit but in a fashion that influences our senses, thinking, and abilities to embrace His grace, righteousness and character and manifest those attributes. Rather than stumbling through life we are to be empowered in life to serve and glorify Him.

One aspect of that filling of the Spirit is submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Submitting is virtually impossible outside of trust. It must flow out of our relationship with Christ towards others. In fact, it is hard to submit unless we are motivated by our relationship with Christ. He is the perfect model of one who knows how to submit. Paul wrote in Philippians that we should, “never do anything out of selfishness or empty deceit but with humility of mind, consider others better than himself. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests but also for the interests of others.”  I can’t think of any better term to capture this sense of submitting than the term, “respect”.

When we respect each other then we can trust each other. Respect values other people, even at times when we may disagree with each other on things that we might feel strongly about. Respect recognizes that people are more important than my own preferences. It avoids selfishness like the plague and has a unique way of considering others more important than oneself. That is far from being automatic in anyone. We all have our selfish tendencies and regardless of how prevalent this pride runs through our veins will often determine our ability to submit to other around us.

This is not just a positional thing related to who is in charge of a program or ministry either. This has more to do with relationships and placing greater value on serving others. But the other side of this coin.  If you glance at the next four verses (Phil 2:5-8) it describes our primary example of Christ submitting to the Father and doing his will. It takes a very mature person (believer) to be able to submit to others, especially in our environment. We consider it demeaning and most are struggling to stay on top, not be pushed under by anyone…at least that is how our mindset often goes.

But this statement of submitting to one another comes at the end of Paul’s admonition to be filled with the Spirit and right before His discussion about marriage. Nothing, literally nothing could be more important in marriage than when the husband and wife can both submit to one another out of reverence to Christ and fulfill their roles of headship and submission to one another. Starts to sound complicated but over years and years of counseling and weddings this is one of the primary struggles of marriages – an inability to submit to one another. Respect for one another is a critical foundation to marriage, reflects Spirit-filled people acting in a sacrificial manner by considering the other person as more important than him or herself and eagerly looking to their interests and not just their own.

I suspect that rather than fighting the feeling that I will be taken advantage of (usually the attitude of a not so centered spiritual type person) that the person who willingly submits stops fighting the competition and control issues that we are often tempted with and begins serving like Christ. It will take a huge weight of our insecurity issues and create more freedom to experience His deep and abiding blessing for life and in our marriages.

Try it, you might like it,

Sincerely, Pastor Brad