Obedience and Submission
Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr
Some may not know that there is a difference between obedience and submission, especially in regards to GOD. Which does GOD want more?
Sounds like here GOD just wants submission because He seems tired of obedience to the sacrifices, celebrations, and feast days He commanded us to observe in Torah.
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. I Sam. 15:22b
Oh, the above verse speaks of GOD desiring obedience.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. James 4:7
Here it appears GOD wants submission over obedience. So which is it?
Let me put it to you like this. You ask your child to take out the trash, and they give you a scowl for interrupting their favorite T.V. show, half sighs, half growls, dramatically jumps off the couch in anger with eye roll and says, “Fine!” Then storms of to the kitchen, slamming and banging doors and lids and then stomps into the room and says, “There! I did what you told me, happy!?” Would you say they did as they were told; did they obey you? Yes, that’s what Merriam-Webster says what it means to obey, “to follow the commands.” But did they submit? To submit means, according to Merriam-Webster, “to yield to governance or authority… to yield oneself to the authority or will of another.” It’s questionable isn’t it? When looking at the concept of submission we need to read between the lines.
Submission implies respect. When you “submit” to an authority, you obey, you do as you are told, you obey, but you do so in a respectful, reverential manner. You willing serve with a smile. You are joyful in your service. You say, “Yes sir.” You look for ways to be helpful and anticipate the needs of the one in authority over you. You give your entire being; body, soul, spirit, mind and emotions to the will and service of the one over you.
You serve an employer in obedience without submission and see how long you’ll be employed.
The child who took out the garbage obeyed, but they did not do it with a submissive heart.
The whole problem in Isaiah chapter one was that of submission, Israel had no problem with obedience, but it was mechanical, ritualistic and without love and reverence for GOD. That’s why He said He was sick of all the celebrations, feasts and sacrifices. Same in First Samuel, the issue was obedience and submission to the command and authority of GOD’s mouthpiece, the Prophet Samuel.
Bottom line is, you can Obey without Submitting, but you cannot Submit without Obedience.
If your heart is right, it is likely your actions will be too.
Let us not be like the hyper little boy running around like a crazy person whose mother kept telling him to sit down. He finally did with arms folded and a sour face and said, “Mama, I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside.”
Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr