I remember as a young boy, full of energy and an active imagination, how my parents constantly had to remind me to obey them. This happened both in public and in the privacy of our home. I was always into something or doing something and often reminded of my parent’s expectations. I had chores and homework. I had to clean my room. I had to keep a good reputation because of whom I represented. Those are significant challenges for a young boy, so I had to work at it.
I was not always good at fulfilling those expectations, and occasionally, my parents used a variety of methods to remind me. The methods ranged from encouragement to consequences. It was difficult then, and to some degree, it is still difficult today, but I work at it.
As a Christ-follower, husband, parent, employee, friend, citizen, etc., I still have expectations and responsibilities that come from within and from those around me. I am not always good at fulfilling those expectations, but I work at it.
Paul understands this struggle and writes some challenging words of encouragement about the expectation that God has placed on each of us to work on our own lives.
“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
Paul reminds us of the value of obedience both while observed and on their own. It is important to obey God’s expectations because we are setting an example for those around us. He continues to challenge us to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. We know that salvation does not come through works but rather is a gift of God’s grace. What does that mean then, to work out one’s salvation?
Through the methods of reverence for God and a clear understanding of our position before Him, we are to constantly work on growing in our faith and become more like Christ. This is known as the process of sanctification.
What is so encouraging are the words that remind us that God is the one who is working in each of us, guiding our desires and actions for the purpose of fulfilling His plans. We are part of God’s plan, and as we continue to grow through His working in our lives, we will help to fulfill His purpose.
For each of us, as we continue to work at growing in our walk with the Lord and becoming more like Christ, we are fulfilling God’s plan. This plan is not just for our lives but is also designed to affect the lives of others. Therefore, just as we have to work daily on the expectations of our personal lives, we must work daily on our spiritual life as well, remembering that God is both expecting this work from us and guiding this work in us.
I pray that you and I will pursue this work today faithfully and obediently.
Pastor Brian Freerksen