By Pamela Rose Williams
1 Peter 5:5 “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”
I grew up on the idea that we are to respect our elders. As much as my sisters and I participated in sibling rivalry, I remember that I did submit to the authority of my oldest sister. I was taught that when she was in charge when Mom and Dad went out for the evening that she was in charge! I admit I was not so respectful and submissive to my second to the oldest sister, but today I am so proud of the lovely Christian lady that she is and I ask the Lord to give me the grace and dignity that she has.
Today I am astounded at the lack of respect that children have for parents or any other authority figure. They regularly spew vulgar words at the parents, teachers and even law enforcement officials. They do whatever they want to do with no regard, or respect for anyone. It is essentially what the Bible calls “love waxed cold” (Matthew 24:12). Because of the blatant sinful lifestyles that are being tolerated in our world, respect has gone into the toilet.
Today’s verse says “submit yourselves unto the elder“. What does that mean? Well, Peter goes on to explain that we should be “subject” one to another and “clothed with humility”. Why? Because God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble. You will see that same thing said in James 4:6 and gobs of stuff about the contrast between the proud and the humble in the book of Proverbs.
To “submit” to someone means to voluntarily place ourselves under their authority because we trust their leadership. Women submit to husbands because God has made the husband the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church (Eph 5:22-24). Employees are submissive to their employers because the employer is in a leadership role (Psalms 123:2; Eph 6:5; Col 3:22; 1 Tim 6:1; Titus 2:9; 1 Pet 2:18). Children are admonished to “obey” their parents in the Lord — Why? Because it is the right thing to do! (Eph 6:1-3). Obedience is slightly different than submission in that it is not “voluntary”. Obedience requires immediate heed to the command of the authority.
I believe, with all my heart, that the reason why people do not submit to authority is simply because they have not been taught to do so. Today’s parents are becoming more and more Biblically illiterate. When the parents do not teach the principles that are found in God’s Word, the children do not learn right from wrong. When the children do not learn right from wrong then their children do not know right from wrong and eventually we are slipping back to the time when everyone does what is right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6). Did you know the Bible actually calls these kind of people foolish? Really — take a look at Proverbs 12:15!
How do we solve this problem? Speak out! Teach your children what God expects. Teach them the consequence of ungodly behavior. If you did not properly teach your children, teach your grandchildren or get involved with a program in your church that teaches children respect and godliness. Praise them when they do good. Chastise them when they do wrong — but first you must “Train up a child in the way he SHOULD go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6) [emphasis mine]. We are reaping what we are sowing. Sow the good seed and your fruit will be full of goodness and R-E-S-P-E-C-T!