Be Submissive as Was Sarah
DO YOU at times experience difficulty in being submissive? That is easy to understand. Since no one is perfect and we were all born with a tendency to take ourselves too seriously, being submissive does not always come easy. Yet would there not be far more contentment and happiness if there were more submissiveness to duly constituted authority? Surely!
Fittingly, the Word of God time and again recommends submissiveness; “Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will render an account.” “Younger men, be in subjection to the older men. But all of you gird yourselves with lowliness of mind toward one another, because God opposes the haughty ones, but he gives undeserved kindness to the humble ones.”—Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 5:5.
In particular does the Bible counsel wives to be submissive or in subjection to their husbands: “Let wives be in subjection to their husbands as to the Lord.” Wives like to receive compliments on their appearance, but even more appreciated by discerning persons is the beauty or adornment of submissiveness, even as the apostle Peter shows: “For so, too, formerly the holy women who were hoping in God used to adorn themselves, subjecting themselves to their own husbands, as Sarah used to obey Abraham, calling him ‘lord.’”—Eph. 5:22; 1 Pet. 3:5, 6.
As we examine the record we must conclude, both by what it says and what it leaves unsaid, that Sarah was a model of submissiveness or subjection. When Jehovah commanded Abraham to pull up stakes and travel to a far country, Sarah did not raise objections but was submissive. When, on two occasions, to avoid trouble, Abraham asked her to represent herself as his sister, she submitted. And when the herdsmen of Abraham and Lot quarreled and Abraham let Lot choose the best pasturelands, we do not read of Sarah scolding: ‘You old fool! Letting your young nephew take the best of everything!’ No, but she was submissive.—Gen. 12:1, 11-13; 13:7-12; 20:11-13.
That she was submissive is apparent from the way Abraham spoke to her. When three strangers suddenly arrived as guests, Abraham felt free to tell her to hurry, even as he himself was hurrying: “Abraham went hurrying to the tent to Sarah and said: ‘Hurry! . . . make round cakes.’ Next Abraham ran . . . and he went hurrying.” Sarah did not complain, ‘What’s the hurry?’ but was submissive.—Gen. 18:6, 7.
In particular is her submissiveness indicated by her referring to Abraham as “lord.” Upon hearing one of these strangers say that she would bear a son, she said to herself: “After I am worn out, shall I really have pleasure, my lord being old besides?” Note that here she was not calling Abraham “lord” to flatter him or to be tactful, but this is the way she felt about him when talking to herself; surely a sign of submissiveness.—Gen. 18:12.
Sarah’s submissiveness is remarkable for two particular reasons. First, in that she was “very beautiful.” Usually, the more beautiful a woman is the less likely she is to be submissive. Her beauty gives her power over men and she takes advantage of it. But Sarah, in spite of her rare beauty, was as submissive as though she had been a plain old woman.
Secondly, Sarah’s submissiveness is noteworthy because she was by no means a wishy-washy creature who just could not help being submissive. She was not at all lacking in stamina. She had a will of her own and yet she was submissive. She took the initiative in suggesting that her husband have relations with her maid Hagar so as to have a child by her. When Hagar, upon becoming pregnant, despised Sarah, Sarah disciplined Hagar, causing her to run away. But Jehovah instructed Hagar to return to her mistress and to be submissive to her. At a later time Sarah effected the dismissal of Hagar and her son Ishmael when she noticed that Ishmael, the son of the slave girl, was mocking Isaac, the promised heir. Abraham felt reluctant to do this, but Jehovah sided with Sarah. So seeing how firm Sarah could be at times makes her submissiveness to Abraham all the more noteworthy.
Of course, husbands and others exercising headship may not abuse their position simply because others are required to be submissive to them. Both Jehovah God and Jesus Christ are termed husbands in the Scriptures, and certainly they do not abuse their headship. With the husband’s headship goes the responsibility to show loving consideration, even as the apostle Peter, after counseling wives to be in subjection, shows: “You husbands, continue dwelling in like manner with them according to knowledge, assigning them honor as to a weaker vessel, the feminine one.”—1 Pet. 3:7.
What will help you to be submissive as was Sarah? Faith, love, wisdom and humility. Instead of being so concerned to fight for your “rights,” submit your cause to Jehovah God in faith. It took faith on Sarah’s part to join her husband in his travels and also to represent herself as his sister. So faith that God’s arrangement of headship is the right way will help you to be submissive.
Love will also help you to be submissive. If you have love in your heart for your Creator, for the one to whom you have to be submissive, for your work, then the trials of submissiveness will seem light.
Wisdom will likewise help, and that in two ways. For one thing, it will show you how to submit so as to accomplish the most good. And it will show you why to submit; because it is far more important that things go smoothly than that they go in the most efficient manner—should the one being required to submit have the better judgment.
And in particular will humility help you to submit. A humble one finds it easier to bow, making submissiveness easier!
So let faith, love, wisdom and humility aid you in being submissive as was Sarah. Its rewards are contentment and happiness.