In the first part of Philippians 2, Paul exhorts the believer to do nothing of selfish ambition but to esteem others better than him or herself. Paul holds up Christ as the great Servant of all and says that we are to let the mind that was in Him also be in us. Paul then takes us on a glorious trek through the humiliation and exaltation of Christ. Touring us through His descent to death, even death on a cross, and then His ascent to the highest place, given a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus ever knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Hallelujah!! Amen!!
And then Paul writes, “Therefore . . .” In light of the encouragement to have the mind of Christ . . . in view of the example of Christ who obeyed unto death and now reigns as Lord . . . Paul brings on the implication . . . answers the “so what?” question . . . pens a command to obey . . .
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 . . . (Philippians 2:12 ESV)
The idea of “working it out” is the idea of doing that from which something results . . . in my work world we might call it “producing a deliverable”. And note, it’s not just some generic salvation I’m to be working out, it’s MY OWN salvation . . . tailored for me . . . my own set of deliverables. I am to be working it out.
With fear and trembling, do something with the salvation that was purchased for you with the precious blood of Christ. Work it out. But what does “working it out” look like for me? Tell me to read my Bible . . . and I can check that off the list. Tell me to go to church and not forsake the assembling of ourselves together . . . and I can set my alarm clock. Tell me to tithe . . . and I know I’m obedient when I drop my offering in the bag. Tell me to be religious . . . and I can run with that for awhile. But just tell me to work out my salvation? . . . bit more of a head-scratcher.
And I know that this isn’t working to merit my salvation . . . for I have been saved by grace through faith alone (Eph. 2:8-9). Rather, this is taking the salvation that has been freely given to me through faith in Christ and doing something with it. Just as Christ “worked out” His “mission” as the Lamb of God . . . I’m to work out my salvation as a child of God. But what, specifically, are we talking about? What is it? And how do I go about working it out?
Praise God that while I’m called to “work it out,” God has promised He would “work it in.”
. . . for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13 ESV)
Chew on that for a bit. Part of the salvation dynamic is that God has promised to actively work in me . . . so that I might work out my salvation for His delight and satisfaction.
That word “work” is energeo. He energizes . . . He infuses . . . He empowers. Through His Spirit-to-spirit connection He gives the desires and the determination that align with His purposes for me “delivering” on MY OWN salvation. And, beyond the desire, He empowers me to go and do it. So while I seek to obey and work out my salvation . . . and while I may produce some results and some deliverables . . . He gets all the credit . . . all the glory . . . ’cause while I’m working it out, it’s only because He’s first working it in.
And so mine is not to strive . . . but to abide. I don’t self-propel my way to being a “good Christian” . . . because, through the power of the finished work of Christ, I am already counted holy and righteous in Christ. Instead, because of who I am in Christ, I seek first the things of the kingdom . . . and I submit myself to the leading of His indwelling Spirit . . . and then respond to His “working in” by “working it out.”
How important is it to keep that Spirit-to-spirit connection clutter free and static free? Pretty!!! I need to keep listening for His voice as I read His word, spend time in His presence, and interact with His people. I need to remember that He wants to work it in . . . so that I can work it out.
By His grace . . . for His glory . . .