Friday, June 10, 2022

Work out your Salvation

 Read Philippians 2

Paul notes to his partners in ministry that it is God who works in them.  He is working through them and through us to fulfill his purpose.  We are part of the plan.

This should sound familiar.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

God works in us and through us.  It’s his way and because it’s his way, we are blessed when it becomes our way. God could have said, “Here are the rules.  Good luck.  Go.”

He didn’t.  He placed his own Spirit inside of us.  He leads and directs our steps.  We understand this.  We don’t always embrace it, but we understand it.

We know that God is working in us and through us and that he is for us.  His plans prosper us.  Our hope and our future are in him.

That’s cool.  Sounds like fun.  Should be a blast, right?

How about, just as Paul saw his most precious mission set before him—you remember to live is Christ and to die is gain—so too, we have our missions before us.

What does that mean?

It means that we are to work out our salvation as the most important thing that we do.  We are not working for our salvation.  We understand that we are saved by grace through faith and it is this way so nobody can say they had even the slightest part of achieving this state of right-standing with God.

But we are to work out our salvation.  How will we live in response to this wonderful gift that we received by faith?  How do we respond to this thing called grace?  How do we live in the mercy and favor of the Lord?

Paul said, “Show me your stuff!”  We are challenged to study and show ourselves approved.  What’s that mean?

Show me.  How does this whole response to mercy, grace, and favor work out for you?  What is your response?

We know that we are to love one another, but what does that mean?  Is it lock-step obedience?  Is it broken field running carrying this football called love? 

Your response will not always fit into a sports analogy.  You might teach.  You might cook.  You might help someone get dressed or get to an appointment or get a job or just get here on Sunday mornings.

You might be a kingdom builder—someone who earns much or has considerable resources and puts them to work for the kingdom of God in this age.

Your response might be to help someone navigate out of loneliness.

How will you work out your response to this wonderful gift of grace?

It will be somewhat different for each of us, but one thing should be the same.  Our response comes without grumbling or complaining.

Oh, poor, poor, pitiful me.  I am saved by the mercy and grace of God and now I have to do good stuff.  I don’t know if I can handle it.

Poor, poor pitiful me.  We live in the Lord’s favor but Tom makes us read the Bible.  Just for clarification, I don’t actually make anyone read the Bible. I do challenge each of you to read it daily. We have a plan for reading and studying and sticking to that should not be terribly debilitating.

Poor, poor pitiful me—now they’ve got me taking food to hungry people.  I don’t know how much of this is can take.

We should be among the happiest people on the planet.  We are saved from our sin and from death.  We have been given life and challenged to live it to the full.  We have been given good works to do.  Now that sin and death don’t have any say in the matter, we can do what God designed us to do.

This is cause for celebration, not grumbling and complaining.

Who grumbles?  Who complains?  The world that is perishing before our eyes.  Christ is finishing the good work he began in you. 

Paul is saying, I’m close to the end of my race.  I press on, but I know my time is near.

Your time to cross the finish line is coming soon, but for now you run your race of faith and do it without complaint, seeing the example of Christ himself as your standard.

For now, figure out how best to live out this gift of salvation.  Don’t grumble.  Don’t complain.  Live and live to the full.

But what about this fear and trembling business?  Think to the first time that you held a newborn baby.  For most, there might have been a little fear and a little trembling.  If it was the first time you held new life in your hands, it hit you hard.  This life is completely in my hands, at least for the moment.

The same is true of our own lives given to us anew.  Our response to being given life in the name of Christ Jesus, should be as overwhelming as the first time we held a newborn baby.

Fear and trembling translate to the most important thing I have been trusted with as we look at being a new creation.  I will work out this new life given to me as the most important thing from here to the end of the age.

If you find yourself starting to complain, find someone who is at the end of their rope and help them.  Find someone who is grumbling and give them a reason to give thanks to God.

Be a light unto this world.  Here’s the thing in this work out your salvation business. You have so much discretion as to how you will love your neighbor—as to how you will work out your salvation.

Do it as the most important thing you will do for the rest of your life.


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