This verse has been used out of context many times. But to look at it correctly, we must read the verse before it. In Ephesians 5:21 we are told to submit to one another out of reverence to Christ. When we are subject to one another, we take on the heart of a servant…putting the needs of others first. In that context then, wives are submitting or placing in an orderly fashion the family unit…with all parties acting in the interest of another.
Jesus wasn’t cocky or arrogant. Nor was He condescending, even though He had every right to act in this manner. Just imagine, God came down from heaven and willingly became nothing. He humbled Himself to the lowest of social status…a slave or servant, as an example for us to follow. Servant-hood is probably one of the hardest things to do and do well. Our selfish human nature would rather be waited on, rather than wait on others. And the whole humility and obedience thing is in direct contradiction with everything the world tells us to do. But it all starts with our attitude as the verse says. For we can bring under submission our bad attitudes and then take on the role of servant for His glory. We can extend His grace and mercy with genuine love and concern if we become humble and obedient… with Jesus as our guide.
In other words…if you have the love of Christ within you, demonstrate it! Paul calls us here to be like-minded…the Greek word for this meaning the activity represented involving the will, the affections, and the conscience. This unity involves coming together as a whole in decision-making, with morally right passions, and motives. For being like-minded is thinking the same thing for the good of all, not just a few. Yes, being like-minded takes work on the part of everyone. It calls us to be peacemakers, bridge-builders, and servants to all – for His sake and for His glory.
Elsewhere in Mark, Jesus brought home this point when He said, ” If anyone wants to be first he must be the very last and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35) But having a servant’s heart goes against our grain. We’d much rather be honored and have people serve us than swallow our pride and do for others. But we need to remember that the most important thing that comes out of a servant’s heart is joy. For when we put others ahead of ourselves…we’re putting our priorities in proper perspective… Jesus first –Others second – Yourself last.