Connects with previous passage 1:1-11 & 1:23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.
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 according to his good purpose.
Once you start, don’t stop.
Paul commends them to the ongoing work of salvation – to grow in their faith and service of God (collectively). Relationships should be encouraging, don’t bring people down. When we think we’re being watched we do well, but when there’s no one there do we try as hard?
Fear and trembling because God is working in and through you. The King of Kings calls us to work out his purpose, a joy and responsibility.
After encouragement Paul brings a challenge:
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life – in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. 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.
Stop moaning! It’s not what we do it’s the way we do it. The attitude of our hearts not just the work of your hands. When we get into the moaning mindset it affects the witness of the church. We must grow to glow – shine like stars. If you’re not making a difference outside, we’re wasting our time inside.
Jesus showed perfect example:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil.2:6-11)
Find someone to help you get out of the moaning mindset – housegroup, prayer partner, prayer team in church.
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon. But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.
Paul gives two examples: Timothy & Epaphroditis.
- Timothy shows a genuine interest in others and serves willingly – if you want one, be one.
- Epaphroditis was willing to give his all for the gospel.
There are no easy answers to the reality of life in this world but when God welcomes us and says ‘Well done,’ it will outweigh all the trials of this life.
[From a sermon by Pete Orphan 2/2/14]
Next study in this series