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Strong Enough To Submit

Many years ago I filed the following story by an anonymous writer. Read it and think. Here goes:


Last summer, while camping, a man was awakened one night by scratching on his tent door. As the moon beams streamed through the open door, the man could see all too plainly that his visitor was a full-grown skunk! It would have been a simple matter for him to have dispatched the skunk then and there. He possessed the skill, had the necessary equipment, and was in close range. But on second thought, the man decided to lay very still. Suppose, he thought, I do shoot his head off. It would kill him instantly, but he will, in the very act of dying, ruin my clothes, my tent, my bed, and all my equipment; and in addition, he will make me deathly sick.So it appeared to the man that he had all to gain and nothing to lose by just being quiet and not getting into a fight with the skunk! In a few minutes, Mr. Skunk had satisfied his curiosity and walked away from the tent, having done no harm at all. The man returned to his slumber —happy that he had not caused a big "stink" by foolishly and needlessly defending himself.A most useful lesson had been taught by this lowly creature of the night.. . It is a part of wisdom to let some matters and some people completely alone.


The skunk story reminds me of this directive in Ephesians 5:21: "submitting to one another in the fear of God." Christians need to learn the important lesson that, perhaps more often than not, winning a fight is just not worth the stink it's going to cause, even if you "win." A lot of the "stink" in our world can be traced to an unwillingness on the part of people to be submissive in attitude toward God and one another. The word "submit" in modern American culture is now widely (and wrongly) viewed as a word standing for weakness. In our ultra-competitive society, we are taught that only the strong survive, that might makes right, that "I don't have to take it," and that "ain't nobody gonna tell me what to do." The results are easy to see. In marriages and homes, at work and at school, in politics and business, even in churches, a lot of stink stays stirred because many people would rather stand on their rights than give in and let somebody else "win." The Greek word translated "submit" in Ephesians 5:21 is huoptasso and "is an old military figure [meaning] to line up under" (A. T. Robertson; Word Pictures in the New Testament; Volume 4, p 544). The word has nothing to do with inferiority or weakness. A 1,200 pound horse is far superior in strength to a 125 pound rider, but the horse has learned to submit. Jesus was God in the flesh, but He submitted to the Father's will so totally He could pray, "Not My will, but Thine be done" (Luke 22:42). Jesus was strong enough to let God's will win out. He "humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:8). You may "win" if you shoot a skunk, but is it worth the stink it I will cause? Many times the strongest thing to do is to choose to submit. And it just might prevent a stink.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ