To Will and to Work
Phil. 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Paul was anxious for the believers in Philippi to continue in their spiritual growth. He loved these people dearly and wished that he could be with them in person. He had a great concern that these people would not continue to grow spiritually. He wanted them to keep moving closer and closer to Jesus and to do this without fear. Jesus had provided everything they needed for salvation, but they needed to live into that salvation. It’s just like grabbing the hand of the one who is reaching out to rescue you from the edge of the cliff. You have to grab the hand that is ready to save you and then give yourself to the rescue process, instead of fighting!
God is at work in those who have been saved. The power of the Holy Spirit transforms the life of the believer and enables us “to will and to work for his good pleasure.” This is not something that happens because we want it to happen, or because we try so hard to do good things. No, this is Spirit-empowered living and when the Spirit is at work, then both our will and will-power are moved and motivated by God’s supernatural presence.
It’s probably dangerous to consider the ideas of “will” and “work” because I believe that far too long those concepts have been a bit distorted. It’s so easy to slip into thinking that I need to make sure that I am doing all the right things as a follower of Jesus Christ. Heaping guilt upon ourselves for not having enough will-power to be perfect has been an plague of my tribe. Language of perfection led to a continual recognition of imperfection and therefore the pain of never measuring up, or being good enough for Jesus. Somewhere along the way we failed to mention that it was the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God that reaches out and transforms God’s children. The only way that we can work out our salvation is in and through the power of God at work in us.
We have to start with having God in us! We are invited to the holy table where we find the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in intimate fellowship. Partaking from this table we are empowered by the holy love which ignites the Trinity. Only when this power is at work within us is our will enabled so that we may work for God’s good pleasure. Whenever we try to do this work from the supply in our own well, we will run dry. We must drink deeply and daily from the well of living water that will never run dry. Is is the living water that brings life to my being and transforms my will into God’s will. As I fellowship with God, the passions and desires of God’s heart become the passions and desires of my heart. The result is that we are drawn to the desires and passions of God. It is no longer a struggle, but it is the will of all that we do.
Our responsibility is to get to know God. God does the work on our will and it is lived out in our work. Beloved children of the Father, we are to relax and enjoy the fellowship around the table and then step into the world, nourished and led by the presence of the Holy Spirit. May our prayer be that God enables us to be faithful.
Lord, please sustain me from your deep supply today. Amen.