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.
The holiday season is an overwhelming time for most people. Studies indicate that the pressures of travel, increased spending, holiday parties, crushing year-end workload, packed stores, strained family relationships, and weight gain cause increased stress and fatigue.
Sometimes, when we are overwhelmed by juggling all the balls that life throws at us, it can be helpful to gain perspective by paying attention to what others are juggling. For example, in our study of Philippians we have found that Paul is writing about joy while in prison. The hand he uses to write about joy and rejoicing is chained to a Roman soldier. In the section above, Paul gives us three reasons to rejoice:
- God is for you. In calling Christians “beloved” and the “children of God” whom the Father loves and serves for “his good pleasure”, one thing is clear – God is for you and has good for you – things for which you should rejoice.
- God lives in you. In saying, “God…works in you, both to will and to work”, Paul is giving us the joyful wonder of the Christian life – everything God created and commands us to be and do He helps us to become. God works at our deepest levels. In the Old Testament, this is referred to as a new heart (Jer. 24:7; Ezek. 36:26-27). In the New Testament, this is referred to as regeneration or new birth (John 3; Eph. 2:1; 2:5; Col. 2:13). Practically, this means that you are new if you belong to Jesus Christ. This new you is not a perfect you, but a new you that God is bringing through a process of growth and life that ends in perfection. New You. Not perfect, but new & in a perfecting process.
- God partners with you. Because God is for you, and in you, you can be a person who obeys and is able to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”. God works things in you, that you work out with Him.
No matter what we are experiencing, these three things can be reasons to rejoice since they are grounded and guarded by God and more secure than anything in this life.
What is God working in you that you need to work out with Him (e.g. forgiving someone, learning the Bible, growing in prayer, freedom in worship, generosity in giving, etc.)?