Philippians 2:12, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
In Acts chapter 16 the Apostle Paul, along with his companion for the journey, Silas, came to Macedonia. It was there that the Apostle and Silas were blessed by the Lord to preach the gospel and baptize many believers. These Philippian brothers and sisters were precious to the Apostle, insomuch that he would refer to them as his “crown” in Philippians 4:1. By the reader having the knowledge of the love the Apostle had for this group, and knowing the environment in which they labored to serve the Lord, it’s easy to believe that he must have often prayed for them in their stand for the truth.
In our study verse, we find the Apostle, in his loving way, encouraging this group of believers to live in such a way as to show their love for the Lord. The Lord, by His irresistible grace, had given them eternal life (1 – Paul calls them “beloved”; 2 – Paul gives testimony of their obedience, which is an evidence of life; 3 – Paul calls on them to work out “your own salvation”, which declares without question it already belonged to them as you cannot work out anything that is not already yours). And now Paul calls on them to “work out”, or work to the outside for others to see, the salvation that was in them.
If we continue to read in this precious chapter of God’s Holy Word, we find a verse that I’m convinced is essential if we are to interpret verse 12 correctly. In Philippians 2:15 we read, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;…” The language of this verse stirs the writers mind to think on something Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” I remember several years ago, when we lived in Georgia, we experienced a terrible ice storm. Our electricity was out several days. I would drive to the gas station daily to get fuel to keep the generator running to keep Sister Jennifer and the kids warm. Sometimes when I would go out, Joshua would want to go with me. As we travelled down the road, Joshua and I would look at houses to try and find where the electricity had been restored. Sometimes Joshua would say, “Daddy, they have power, I can see the lights.” I remember one house we went by that had, what seemed to be, every outside light on. I told Joshua, “There’s no doubt they have electricity. Look at all those lights!” My point? For the light to shine out, the house had to have a power source within. In order for folks that drove by to know, the lights would need to shine out.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, without the grace of God being in someone, the Bible says that they are “darkness” (Ephesians 5:8). The only way someone has light is for them to be saved already. Yet, that same person needs the instruction of God’s Word with the help of the Holy Spirit to work that light to the outside for others to see. May we all be encouraged to live in such a way that our neighbors and friends can see that we love the Lord and have a deep desire to glorify Him. Amen!