Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:12-13. (EHV).
Be careful about reading these verses because part of verse 12 – “work out your salvation” – is easy to misconstrue if you forget the rest of verse 13. This isn’t about me or you doing it ourselves. It isn’t about us doing the work of salvation for ourselves. Jesus already did all of it, everything necessary, for salvation. Instead, the verse is about our faith, our letting God’s Spirit work through us. The good things we say and do are God Himself working through us as His Spirit guides our thoughts and actions.
That’s easy to forget, you see, because sometimes it feels like there is something we have to do to feel worthy or be worthy or involve ourselves in our salvation. Mark this and remember it: the only involvement we have in salvation – being saved from damnation – is saying “I believe.” All the atonement, all the work, all the actions, all the bloodshed, all the spiritual healing was done by Jesus and only by Jesus. As Madeline might have said, that’s all there is; there is no more.
Yet here on the Third Rock we get confused. We fill our lives with busyness (and business), and we spend most of them learning, striving, working to attain. If you’re in America, you’re also imbued with the concept of personal liberty and independence. It’s our God-given right to exercise our liberties because we’re free. That’s where it should stop but all too often it doesn’t. We get our independence here mixed up with our dependence on God for His saving us from ourselves. And the worst part is that we don’t want to admit when we’re wrong. That He’s God and we aren’t. That we don’t, we can’t, save ourselves from the consequences of our sins.
Faith is a choice. We choose to accept what Christ has done for us. When we do that, He sends His Spirit to live and work through us. Our hands may do the physical lifting but it’s His heart that gives us the motivation to do it. Our eyes do the seeing, our lips speak the words, yet it is God’s Spirit seeing what we see, speaking words we speak in order to do our part in His Kingdom work. This is where ‘working out our salvation’ occurs and where we meet the water’s edge.
For further reading: Ezra 1:5, 1 Corinthians 12:6, 2 Corinthians 7:15, Galatians 2:8, James 2:18, Hebrews 13:21, Philippians 2:13
Lord Jesus, continue to work Your work through me today. Help me to know You better so that all my words and actions may be ones Your Spirit works through me