Welcome to Tuesday’s podcast. Thank you for joining us today. I hope that, together with this thought for the day, prayer and song of worship that you pause, breathe deeply and encounter God’s presence in your inner-most being.
Today’s reading is Philippians 2:12-18, but I am going to focus on verses 12-13.
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.
A quick question: what do you do when the boss is not looking? Maybe you’ve heard the phrase, “look busy, the boss is coming.” It’s as if we will only work hard under the threat of an authority figure. But what if we were to be sold out on the purpose of our activity, if the vision of what lay before us was so compelling that we were ‘all in.’ Picture a scenario where we no longer worked at our jobs for the pay packet, doing what we were told because we had to, but rather we were fully committed to the cause, to the business we are engaged in.
I used to swim. That is a bit of an understatement. I used to sweat chlorine, I would be steeped in chlorinated water for up to 4 hours a day. I had been given an opportunity to train hard and become the best I could possibly be. I was part of a squad of about 30 swimmers and we would train early morning and late afternoon around our studies.
There were rare occasions when our coach couldn’t be at one of our training sessions. When this happened another guy would supervise. He wasn’t a swimming coach, he was our lifeguard. Our coach would leave us detailed instructions and we would be left to get on with it.
Now, the temptation to slack off was huge. That set of 20×200 metres front crawl, shall we make it 15, or maybe even 10?
What it revealed was those who were really committed, those who wanted to be the best they could be and those who were there because their parents (who had probably been swimmers themselves) really wanted them to be there. The coach isn’t here so rather than 100%, I’m only going to give 75%.
This is the picture Paul paints in the passage.
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed
When Paul, their coach had been present, they were really going for it, pursuing the life God had put before them. He goes on to say
—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—
So even when Paul’s back was turned they were going at it with everything they had. The Philippians were sold out, all in, totally committed. Jesus had filled their hearts and provided the vision of who they were becoming. There was no slacking because they wanted this, it wasn’t because they felt compelled or because someone else was watching to make sure they were doing as they should.
So, how is our walk with God today? Do we still recognise that we have a long way to go, that there are parts of our lives, our characters, our attitudes and our responses to those around us that need work?
Are we motivated to spend time in prayer and reading the bible every day or does our motivation take a boost when we know it’s our turn to share at cell group this week?
Do we have our eyes wide open to the opportunities to serve our friends, colleagues and family everyday or only when we get reminded about our people of peace at cluster?
Paul goes further. He encourages the Philippians with this…
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.
“Continue to work out your salvation” “Continue to work out your salvation”
“To work out” means to bring to completion… God has kick started our salvation… but it’s our job to complete the work he has started.
‘Salvation’ can also be translated as ‘healing’. Jesus, through his life, death and resurrection has healed the rift, the gaping wound, that lay between us and God. Now, reconnected with the father, we are to work with the Spirit to bring about healing to our body, our minds, our emotions, our attitudes – our whole operating system.
On our own we will never get very far. So it is really encouraging to know that it is God who works in us to will and to act to fulfill his good purpose. It’s God who energises us, God is engaged in the ongoing work of our the salvation of our lives… Every day we need to pause, breathe deeply and encounter God’s presence in our inner-being. We need to press into his plan, his programme, work with him for the transformation of our whole lives and whole being.
What is God saying to you today?
Father, thank you for Jesus. Thank you that his death healed the rift between us. I ask that you help me to work with you today to heal my body, my heart and my mind. Show me who and where I can serve you in the world today. Amen.
BIBLE READING: Philippians 2:12-18
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 fulfil his good purpose.
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labour in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.