12 Therefore, my loved ones, just as you always obey me, not just when I am present but now even more while I am away, carry out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 God is the one who enables you both to want and to actually live out his good purposes.
The summer I graduated from high school I had the opportunity to work part time at the local radio station. I really enjoyed that and at the end of the summer I asked the General Manager/chief engineer if I could come back again next summer during my college break. He said, “yes, but only if you can get your First Class FCC license.” That was a tough test that many adults had to take more than once before passing. But, I wanted that job so badly I set aside two weeks, still while attending classes in the spring, to study for hours every night and then went to the FCC office in Philadelphia to take the test and actually passed. As a result of having that license I got the radio station part time job and a full time summer job at the local TV station.
I wanted to tell that story because Paul opens up chapter 2 of the book of Philippians talking about being of one mind. In verse 12 of Chapter 2 when Paul says to the people you have always obeyed me he is saying it out of respect and thankfulness. He is also referring to finding a solution for the ongoing squabbles and strife that occur when he is gone. The salvation spoken of here is deliverance from snares that hinder the Christian from doing the will of God.
Paul strongly asks the Philippians to pursue Christian progress without undue dependence on his presence. In Philippians 1:27, he already mentioned their need to be as diligent in his absence as when he was present. The obedience he expects from them may be obedience to his commands, but in the end, Paul wants them to obey the commands of God that he had taught them.
The Philippian Christians can carry out the exhortation of verse 12 because God produces in believers both the desire to live righteously and the effective energy to do so. God does not demand of us what we cannot do. Furthermore, the provision from God takes into account our every need. It is not always enough to “will” something, for good intentions are not always carried out. It is the grace of God which moves us toward a good action and then enables us to perform it.
by Clarence Beverage
For Pondering & Prayer
Can you think of a time when you, or someone you knew, could do well in the company of an instructor or partner but drive was lost when that person wasn’t present? When did you last feel God’s call to do something at church, took the call, and felt so blessed and thankful that you did it? Does it help to remember that God is there empowering you when you are pursuing the will of Jesus?
Prayer: Holy Lord, we thank you for your presence in our lives. We ask that your Spirit be in us at all times, helping us to keep focus on your will for us but also helping us to slow down and see the beauty of your creation this summer. Amen.