What Does Ephesians 5:21 Mean?

and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Ephesians 5:21(NASB)

Verse of the Day

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul identifies the qualities of the man or woman who walks as a child of light, and is filled with the Spirit of God. To walk in spirit and truth and to be filled with the Holy Spirit, results in a Christ-like life of godly self-sacrifice and the production of an abundance of spiritual fruit for the benefit of others and to the glory of God.

Paul describes the spirit-filled Christian as one who speaks to their brothers and sisters-in-Christ: "In psalms and hymns and spiritual songs," demonstrating a life that rejoices in the truth, and one that is enlarged by speaking of God's goodness and grace with other members of Christ's body.

Not only does the spirit-filled Christian demonstrate an outward delight in God, but they show forth the inner joy of the Lord when they sing and makes melody in the silent secrecy of their own heart; singing with thanksgiving and praise in the privacy of their own inner being, to the glory of God. Such delight in the Lord is illustrated many times by the sweet Psalmist of Israel and demonstrated by Zacharias the priest at the birth of his special little son who was to become the forerunner of the Messiah.

Yes a thankful heart, boldness in testifying to the truth of the gospel, power for spiritual service, open-hearted generosity towards others, and the exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ, are all evidences given in the Word of God of the man or woman who is filled with the Spirit of God. This results a Christ-like life of godly self-sacrifice and an abundance of spiritual fruit.

And in this verse, we discover one further evidence of being filled with Spirit: it is the man or woman who graciously submits to one another in the fear of Christ. One who is spirit-filled is one who is humble of heart, considers others more important than themselves, and is willing  to be subject to their fellow Christians, to the glory of God and for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Rejoicing, joy, singing, and good works appear so positive by comparison with being submissive to one another! This is perhaps an aspect of being filled with the Spirit of God which is often neglected and one that we might prefer to avoid, but the list of evidences that Paul gives of being a Spirit-filled believer, ends with this admonition: "Be subject to one another, in the fear of Christ."

A gracious and mutual submission towards our brothers and sisters-in-Christ demonstrates a seemliness and sobriety that is often lacking in Christian circles today. Humility of heart, an unassertiveness of demeanour, and a gentle forbearance towards fellow believers, are some of the evidences that Paul lists in identifying a Spirit-filled believer. However, this attitude seems to be sadly lacking in these end times, when the love of many has grown cold and a critical posture appears to have become the norm in the lives of many Christian.

It is in order to honour and reverence the Lord that we are exhorted to be submissive to one another, for Paul writes: "Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ." Underpinning our attitude, our actions, our mind, and our motive towards one another should be a deep reverence for the Lord Jesus Who is the Head of the body and Master of all. Let us seek to be filled, and continue to be filled day by day, by the Holy Spirit of God in all we say and do, and in every area of our lives so that our life may be a demonstration of the life of Christ living in us, flowing through us and streaming out to others for their benefit and to the glory of God.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, I long to walk the godly path in Christ Jesus and be filled with the Spirit, moment by moment. Lord, I want to do this for the right reasons so that my life may praise and glorify You, for You alone are worthy. I pray that my life may be one of self-sacrifice and humble praise, for the benefit of my brothers and sisters in Christ and to the praise and glory of Your holy name. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

Picture courtesy of Pastor Jegede Sunday E

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