World English Bible translation
2:12So then, my beloved, even as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 2:13 For it is God who works in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure. 2:14 Do all things without murmurings and disputes, 2:15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you are seen as lights in the world, 2:16 holding up the word of life; that I may have something to boast in the day of Christ, that I didn't run in vain nor labor in vain. 2:17 Yes, and if I am poured out on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice, and rejoice with you all. 2:18 In the same way, you also rejoice, and rejoice with me.
After telling the Philippians that they must be humble toward one another and that they must be united of one accord, Paul held up Jesus Christ as the example that they should follow. He told them that even though Jesus was equal with God, He emptied Himself and became like a servant. Jesus humbled Himself and was obedient even unto death on the cross. The Father responded to this by raising Jesus Christ from the dead and seating Him in the heavenly places in a position of power and authority.
Paul had told the Philippians to do the same in their lives that Jesus did in His own. Now Paul tells them that they should do this whether he is able to come to them or if he must remain in prison. They are to, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Being humble and obedient is an active experience. We must make a conscious choice to live in obedience to God. Humility is an act of the will; it is not something that we are born with.
Paul writes that they are to work out their own salvation because it is God who works in them. God works in the lives of Christians for His own reasons and purposes. Here Paul demonstrates one of the fundamental dilemmas of the Christian life. We are to work out our own salvation because it is God who works in us to save us. It is both an act of our own will and completely in the hands of a merciful God.
The Philippians are to live without arguments of dispute among themselves. They are to live as the perfect children of God. If they live their lives in such a fashion they will become a light and an example to the world around them. Just as Christ is their example, they can be an example to other people.
Paul said that if the Philippians were to live in this fashion, he would not feel as though his own life was wasted. Even though he was being poured out as a sacrifice, he would feel as though his life was rewarding and worthwhile. If Paul knew that the Philippians were growing into the image of Christ, then he would not feel as though his sacrifice was in vain. Paul would be able to rejoice if he knew that they were becoming more like Christ.
What can you do over the next day to work out your own salvation? And, in what way have you seen God working in you over the last day?
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