“So then, my dear friends, continue to do as I tell you, as you always have; not only as you did when I was there with you, but even more now that I am no longer there; and work for your salvation ‘in fear and trembling’. It is God, for his own loving purpose, who puts both the will and the action into you. Do all that has to be done without complaining or arguing and then you will be innocent and genuine, perfect children of God among a deceitful and underhand brood, and you will shine in the world like bright stars because you are offering it the word of life. This would give me something to be proud of for the Day of Christ, and would mean that I had not run in the race and exhausted myself for nothing. And then, if my blood has to be shed as part of your own sacrifice and offering – which is your faith – I shall still be happy and rejoice with all of you, and you must be just as happy and rejoice with me.” (Philippians 2:12-18, The Jerusalem Bible)
This past few weeks during Lent, we have made the decision to give up things that we thought were not beneficial for us in some way. Or maybe we added some things that we thought would serve other people or help us spiritually, like adding more prayer or reading the Bible regularly. Perhaps we did well with our sacrifices, or perhaps we struggled to keep it up!
Paul is urging us to continue on and to work for our salvation. He is urging us not to complain or argue. One of the problems I’ve encountered is that after Lent, I feel sort of the same way I feel when I lose weight and get off my diet: I can have it all again. But if God has shown us places where we are spending too much of our time or money or whatever it is, then we need to make permanent changes in our habits, not just change them for six weeks and then go right back to the way we did things before. If God is the one who puts the will and action into us, then we need to ask him to help us continue in our good work. We should not complain that it’s too hard or argue with God that we will just do the thing ‘a little bit’ and won’t go overboard ever again. Instead, we must “not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart”. (Galations 6:9 NKJV)
So here is good news: We can ask God to help us continue to put his will and action in our hearts and we can have faith that he will do as he has promised.
Resurrection Day is coming!