“And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21, NLT).
Submitting to authority can sometimes be a bitter pill to swallow.
In the last chapter, Paul instructs believers to submit to one another. Why? Because we revere Christ. We regard His sacrifice as worthy of great honor, and we choose unity in Christ over our own imagined rights. He shows us how a marriage should be built on mutual respect, with wives submitting to their husbands and husbands submitting to Christ.
In chapter six, Paul brings the parent-child and master-slave relationships into the picture. Children are to obey their parents because they belong to the Lord. Our obedience is not based on how loving or perfect our parents are at all times but on our love and fear for God. Slaves are to obey their earthly masters “with deep respect and fear.” And the next statement is even more challenging: “Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ” (verse 5).
While we might not understand the intricacies of the master-slave relationship, we can understand the boss-employee relationship. And it seems like the most popular thing to do at a workplace is to complain about those in positions of authority. Yet, we are called to serve those over us with humility and sincerity, as though we were serving Christ! “Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (verse 7). It can be so difficult to show respect to those we feel have not earned it; however, these can be the perfect opportunities to show others our commitment to Christ.
At this point, Paul shifts gears and begins to outline for us the familiar passage on the armor of God. Many, many sermons and articles have been written on the different pieces of armor. But some general truths we can take away are:
Stand your ground
Pray persistently in the Spirit–especially for believers and those preaching the Gospel
And we should remember these truths about the spiritual realm around us: the devil has a plan to bring us down, but God’s power is mighty. We cannot let our guard down, for the battle we fight is not against what we can see but against an unseen world. Do not lose hope, but find courage in Paul’s final greetings as he closes out his letter:
Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness. May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.