Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. —Philippians 2:12-13
Our Fighter Verses passage this week begins with the word “therefore,” continuing the thread of God’s calling for believers. It is a connector that signals us to look at what came before and draw out application for our lives. We can go all the way back to Philippians 1:27, where Paul says,
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.
Paul wants the believers in Philippi to keep in mind what he has previously said regarding the gospel, unity, and the humility of our Savior. Now he addresses them as “my beloved,” and we can feel his shepherding heart longing for them to be alert and heed the word of God. He says,
“You have always obeyed,” now, in my absence, obey even more. The Philippians were very dear to Paul and he exhorts them to continue growing in godly maturity by obeying always. Children may be more likely to disobey if their parents aren’t looking on. But parents see real maturity in their children when they discover their children have obeyed even when no one was watching. This is Paul’s commendation here, “you have always obeyed,” coupled with an exhortation to obey even more when he isn’t there to see.
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Do not lose heart as you continue in the goal until its conclusion. We have so great a salvation in Christ Jesus. And it has come to us as a gift, one of very high cost—the precious blood of Jesus. God has said, “this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (Isaiah 66:2). So with full and overflowing adoration and reverence, let us walk in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, continuing on in humility to the glorious finish line. “Let us run with endurance the race set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (12:1-2).
“...for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Oh, what comfort it is that we are not being called to obey in our own strength. In fact, the endurance and obedience from the heart that is pleasing to God can only be accomplished by the working of God in us. The indwelling Holy Spirit, together with God’s Word, works this in us for His good pleasure. God is doing a glorious, maturing work in every believer, not for the believer’s joy only, but amazingly, for His own joy as well.
What spiritual disciplines can help you cultivate the mind of Christ, His humility and obedience, and help you walk in a manner worthy of the gospel?
Bible commentators note that “working out your salvation” requires an ongoing, mutual cooperation of the believer with the Holy Spirit in the things of God—saying no to sin and yes to God. What are some areas of your life that you are not in cooperation with God’s Word and the Holy Spirit? Take time now to pray about what God reveals to you.