Today we finish our study on grace by looking at Philippians 2:12-13, “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.” (NASB) God plants His grace in us so that we have the strength and power to be obedient to His Will.
When we face difficulties and situations that seem overwhelming, God’s grace is in us and available to give us the power we need to get through those times. Because of our human nature, it can be difficult to be obedient to God’s Will. Sometimes we can be like that little 2-year old stomping her foot and saying, “NO!” However, God is patient with us and give us the grace to redirect our thinking to His Will. That grace gives us power. Power to be obedient, the power to, as our Scripture says, “work out” our salvation.
What does it mean to work out our salvation? Does that mean we need to work FOR our salvation? No! What the Apostle Paul is telling the Philippians is that this gift of grace that God has given us freely needs to be brought from the inside of us to the outside, in other words, the character and attributes of God placed in us need to be seen and displayed, through the faith we have in Jesus. As we walk daily with Jesus, we are to continually be working on those attributes so that others see Jesus in us until the “work” is finished! That isn’t always easy to do and that is why we need God’s grace to give us the power to accomplish the sanctification process in our lives.
Paul says we are to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” Does that mean we need to be fearful, as though we will lose our salvation? No, because we are God’s child and He has promised us that once we are in His family, we are His forever. John 1:12 says, “But to all who receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (ESV)
Fear, in Philippians 2:12, means to have reverence or respect for. As we seek to be more like Him, we need to have the attitude of respect for God and His holiness, not desiring to do anything that would displease Him because we love Him. When we seek to do His Will and do our best to please Him and follow Him, He works His grace in us so that we can show others what He has done for us through our actions. Just as with our earthly fathers, we desire to please them by being obedient, and desiring to show them our love by our attitudes and actions; we want to show God our devotion through the way we live.
As we consider grace and the power it gives us to live a holy life, we need to be grateful to God for His wonderful gift. Take time to give Him praise for His love, mercy, and above all, His GRACE!