Memorise Ephesians 5:21
“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”
“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrew 13:17).
What goes through your mind when you read this verse? Would you ask yourself, “It’s OK to ask us to obey our leaders, but what if our leaders teach us and ask us to do the wrong things? Should we still obey, should we still submit?”
That was my thought! Is it wrong? No – what we must realize that we should never interpret the Bible in isolation – we must read it in context, and with the knowledge of the Bible as a whole.
In this case, there are other passages in the Bible that teach us to be discerning, and not be led blindly.
“The clear recognition of authoritative leadership is essential for the harmony and effective administration of any group. Just as the New Testament does not encourage undiscerning obedience, neither does it teach unintelligent submission…. The Scripture does not teach, encourage, or exemplify submission of this sort. It is bad for the one who practises it in that it discourages personal accountability to the Lord God, a mark of true Christian maturity.” (Raymond Brown)
We thank God for godly faithful pastors and leaders in our church, who “watch over our souls”, and we should give them joy (rather than grief them with our disobedience and disrespect) e.g. by coming for worship services punctually, and living lives that glorify God).
Pray that our church leaders are faithful to God. Then it’s our joy to obey and submit to them.
Thought: The Christian is answerable to God alone. His obedience and submission to leadership is in obedience to God – it’s a discerning and wise obedience.
Prayer: Lord, teach us to be discerning and submissive, as we submit to Thy authority in all that we do.