Now Work it Out
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now 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 do for His good pleasure.”
-Philippians 2:12-13Just before writing these words, Paul had just given instruction to the church at Philippi to be of “one mind” (Philippians 2:2) and to “let each esteem others better than himself” (Philippians 2:3) in order that he might encourage them to be in loving unity with one another. Paul then gives them extra encouragement in the example that they have in Jesus. The example of how Jesus humbled Himself. The Creator entering His creation and coming to serve not to be served.
When Jesus came to serve He came to die. Jesus came to pay a debt to God that we couldn’t pay and with His blood He purchased freedom and salvation for all who believe on Him. If Jesus brought salvation, how then can we work out our own salvation?
It is important to remember that Paul is writing to a body of believers in Christ who are already saved. When he writes “work out your own salvation” he is not writing about saving oneself, instead he is talking about living out a life that has been saved. Living. As in the verb “to live.”
Living in action and being active in daily life because they have been saved.
That living is to be done in loving humility. Once we understand that we are being called to live out our salvation and what that looks like (think of Jesus and Philippians 2:7 here) the rest of these verses come easily.
“Fear and trembling” is calling us to evaluate our lives with the proper sobriety and reverence of what we Christians have been called to. Loving each other and serving one another in a world around us that doesn’t know Christ. It is a serious task make no mistake about it. Thankfully for us God didn’t leave us to do it on our own. He gives both the desire and the ability. After all “it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”