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. Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me. (Philippians 2:12-18 ESV)
“Let go and Let God.” Have you ever heard someone say that? This passage actually teaches us something completely different. The Apostle Paul says that if you are a believer God is already working in you and so you should join God by going to work with him.
Think of it like this. A farmer prays to God and asks for a big harvest with lots of fruit. He gets an answer and knows that God will work and cause a great harvest. Does he still need to plant the crops? Does he still need to keep pests away? Does he still need to make plans to get help for the abundant harvest when it comes in? YES!!! He probably needs to work even harder now if he knows that God has guaranteed a large harvest!
In our society we tend to look at Salvation as a one time event like a wedding, but sometimes scripture speaks of it as an ongoing event like a marriage. You don’t show up to a wedding, marry someone and then never see them again (you could, but it would be really weird). You usually marry someone and are continually married. In other words the marriage lasts way beyond the wedding. The way the word Salvation is mentioned here is similar its something that continues past the initial event. It’s like being born and being alive.
So Paul says because we know that God is already doing some cool stuff in your life if you are a believer you need to be diligent to join God at work. We know God is the one who does the real work and who is guaranteeing the results but it still requires us to partner with God to see those things truly come out. It requires us putting faith ahead of our feelings.
So Paul lists a few things here. He says to put aside “grumbling and complaining.” I don’t know about you, but this is hard for me. There is no way I could even think about not grumbling or complaining unless I knew that God were at work in my life already to extinguish these characteristics that really don’t do anyone much good.
He also says that we need to hold fast to the word of life. That means doing what your doing now, getting in God’s word and digging in, allowing God to change how you think and act.
The last part is kind of cool because Paul has a partnership with the church at Philippi. He basically says that if they’ll be a light for Jesus for how they live, then if he does die it won’t be in vain. Even his death will point to how people ought to live for God.