“So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12,13 (NASB)
Life can be difficult and sometimes very painful. We all experience various circumstances that can lead to disappointment and regrets. At times we may question why certain things happen to us or to our loved ones or why challenges seem overwhelming or we may question the purpose for tough times.
In the book of Philippians, Paul encouraged the saints while he was in prison to continue to obey just as they had always done, but now even more while he was not among them. He continued by telling the saints to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. Paul was not referring to salvation that is a gift from God only provided through the finished work of Christ. Paul was speaking of the effort that a believer must intentionally make to grow in his relationship with Christ as he is daily becoming increasingly Christ-like.
How can I work out my salvation? Working out your salvation occurs as you worship and spend time reading and meditating on the Scriptures. It is vital that a believer intentionally sets aside time to spend not only reading the Scriptures but consistently thinking upon and reflecting upon the Word of God (Joshua 1:8). Fasting and prayer is also a way that a believer can work out his salvation. After reading and meditating on the Scripture, pray about what you have read and ask the Lord to help you in not only being a hearer but also a doer of what was read based upon your love for Him (James 1:22-25). Serving others is yet another intentional action of working out your salvation (Galatians 5:12-14). As you serve others from the motive of love, selflessness will increase and selfishness will decrease. God will also allow difficult circumstances as well as our encounters with difficult people to help us grow spiritually (Psalm 119:71). Challenging circumstances and difficult people are used in the sanctification process on the journey to our spiritual maturity and to bring God glory.
Paul also mentioned two words, fear and trembling. This fear and trembling is a reverence and awe of who God is and a reminder of who we are not. We are to rely on the Lord and ask for help in everything that we do and place no confidence in our flesh to accomplish any spiritual growth apart from Christ (Philippians 3:2-4). When it comes to the things of God, placing confidence in the flesh promotes self-righteousness and pride. Remember, as the Scripture says, it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,