Work It Out
Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV) -- 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, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
What role do we play in our spiritual growth? Do we do the work or does God do the work? These are the kinds of questions asked by Christians. Theologians attempt to answer these kinds of questions from the Bible’s testimony. We see clear evidence in the Bible that our actions matter and bring about consequences and results. We also see that every person moves, breathes, and has their being in God. Man makes his plans, but the Lord determines his steps. So what role do we play in our growth versus God’s role?
Paul answers this question for us in his letter to the Philippians. In Philippians 2:12-13, “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, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
This exhortation to the believers is to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. To work it out is to strive and seek the Lord. They are to pursue righteousness, fight sin, and excel in good works. The working out of our salvation isn’t an act of saving ourselves, it is working out the implications of being saved. We till the soil of our hearts so that they can bear fruit. That appears to contain a lot of personal responsibility.
But then Paul says, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and work for his good pleasure.” This means that our working out of our salvation is actually fueled by and directed by God. He is working in us to cause us to will and work for his good pleasure. Here’s how this should encourage us. We should strive and seek to grow in our faith. We make intentional efforts to utilize all the means of grace God has supplied for living out our faith. But as we do so, we recognize that it is the power and grace of God undergirding our actions. He is ultimately doing the work in us. This guarantees fruit in our lives. It’s not ultimately up to us, God is at work.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why do some people get hung up on the issue of God’s role vs our role in spiritually maturing?
- What are some of the things we can do to work out our salvation?
- How does God work in our spiritual maturity? What is His role?
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