“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13, NIV).
Paul’s letter to the Philippians is full of praise, encouragement, and blessing. He is impressed by their walk of obedience and he compliments them on being so easy to get along with. He also praises them for being steadfast and unwavering even when he is not there to guide them.
God is the one who empowers these saints to work and to will — the word will here means to desire, to have a passion for, to really want to go after something. So God is working in them so that they can live fruitful lives, thereby pleasing him. Paul continues: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain” (2:15-16).
This portion of scripture encouraged the Philippians to pay attention when they were in the middle of challenges. “Look at the bigger picture! Don’t complain and whine, because that will stunt your growth.” Even some in the church are not living as they should. They sing the songs and mouth the right words but their hearts are not truly transformed. The Father wants us to shine like the stars in the world around us.
May you follow the example of the Philippian church and live your life in a way that shines forth the glory of God to those around you. Ask the Holy Spirit to draw you closer so that you become consumed with Jesus and maintain a strong witness in the midst of a compromised, wicked generation.