Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. ~Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV)
Who is responsible for your spiritual growth? Who sees to your maturity? From what Paul told the Philippians church, the answer is you and God.
In 1:6, Paul wrote, “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” So, the first spark and the final product in our salvation and maturity comes from God. Bringing us to Christ through faith, God will finish the work he started. Those whom God called will be those whom God glorifies, it’s a guaranteed finish (Romans 8:30).
Yet, this does not make us passive participants in our spiritual growth. Paul wrote that God indeed works in us for his will and good pleasure, and this is the foundation for the command to work out our own salvation. However, if we come to the end of our life on earth and we have not grown spiritually, the problem is not God’s work but our failure to pursue growth.
We must engage ourselves in the Bible to hear God’s voice. We must go to God in prayer, entrusting him with our praises and requests. We must choose to gather with other Christians and edify one another as we sing songs of praise. We must feed ourselves on the word and pursue being fed by godly teachers in his church. But it is God who empowers and accomplishes the growth in our lives as we pursue these things.
Let us not grow complacent or lax in this pursuit, and let us also remember that spiritual growth is a weighty thing. Paul didn’t merely say to work out your own salvation, no, he included the phrase with fear and trembling. We make our pursuit with an attitude of awe and reverence for God, especially because, as Peter wrote, “…you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-20).
It was no light task for Jesus to save us from our sins, nor is it a light task for us to grow to be more like him in love and character. See the glory, the love, and the beauty of God through Jesus. Fix your eyes firmly upon him. Then pursue spiritual growth, and know that all along God is empowering each step.
New posts from this devotional series in Philippians will run most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.