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.

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. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. – Philippians 2:12-18

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Philippians 2:1-11

Jesus called those who would follow Him, the light of the world. The key there is simple those who would follow Him. Following Jesus, believing in Him is all encompassing.

Luke 9:57-62 Jesus expresses how following Jesus will lack even basic comforts and privileges. Prior to the impactful chapter of Luke 15 where God’s intense pursuit of the loss is expressed through the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son Jesus declares the great cost of following Him. To follow Jesus you must be ready to abandon every other part of your life. See Jesus had told the disciples earlier that to follow Him is to be picking up shame and walking toward death daily. Jesus spoke of preparing for the sacrifices of our daily lives as He spoke of His impending suffering and death on a cross.

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? – Luke 9:23-25

The cost of following Jesus is something you should have been prepared for before believing and definitely before you were baptized. It means you are ready to die to every part of who you because eternity with God is greater than having everything in all creation. But, that means you are ready to forsake all of creation including unity with other image bearers for the sake of Jesus being praised more fully.

We testify to the greatness of who Jesus is, who God is, throughout every moment of every day, amidst every situation, every response we are seen as a follower or not.

This is not to say that we are perfect or that we will be perfect at some point in this life. No, grace abounds because we were forgiven and given salvation, but are also continually granted grace amidst our struggles through life.

Salvation is found through belief that Jesus is the only God who saves, this produces purposeful worship through imitation of Him throughout life, even till death, found in further understanding of who He is. 

Simply said, we follow Jesus not always knowing exactly what will be asked of us, but we follow Him no matter what is asked of us because He is God. We follow the one who gives us hope eternal amidst today’s frustrating, exciting, and confusing situations.

Who Do You Obey Christ For?

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.

Realistically think about the question. It almost has the answer in the question, but look past the child like Sunday School thought. The question is not, why should you obey Christ? The question is who do obey Christ for. The question is a real and legitimate question.

We can live in right obedience to Christ because we have been trained to by our parents. We can be obedient to the Word of God because we want to honor our parents, our mentors, our perception in the culture, in the church, and even to prove something to ourselves.

This is an essential premise prior to Paul’s next statement and the continued pressure to share the Gospel with others. We do not simply live how we live because of other people we honor the Lord. Our kindness is not because it is right, it is because it glorifies God. When our actions are defined by right and wrong and not honoring to God or not, we lose sight of the purpose of the actions.

God is the purpose. His glory is the focus of our lives. We are aimed at Him, our gaze fixed, our target never out of focus. That is how you work out your salvation with fear and trembling, the understanding of the great power of God.

Now for those of us who have been granted the great hope of eternity we must not stop there. We must not simply rest in the great hope of our salvation. The eternity that we long for has not come to pass yet. You and I have not been transformed to the point of glory as seen in Colossians 3:4. So, while we are here, while we are present in this state we live to be Christ to the world.

We live to bring gain to others. We work out our great salvation with fear and trembling. We should not simply rest in the idea of eternity of heaven being promised. We must recognize the great depth and difference between the two future locations. The resurrection of all is promised, but will it be to eternal life with God in heaven or despair and torment so merciless that God would suffer and die to save us from it.

Yes, fear and tremble at the depths of pain that will constantly befall all who do not have the great grace of salvation found in Christ. It is no small gift, and no small task to determine how and why you live. You live for the Lord because of the Lord and what He has saved you from.

In this great hope filled with the purpose of focusing on the Lord. We see and intentionally show this appreciation of grace and the transforming power of God through our intentional submission. We carry out kindness, love, forgiveness, reconciliation, and offer His grace because that is His purpose in us. You life, my life, the purpose of the church is not to be good, it is to be the testimony of God and His grace to the world.

If we relinquish the greatest purpose of God’s design in creation, His image bearers making Him known and helping others know Him, we fail in the good purpose of the incarnation of Christ.

Therefore, you personally must look at your perspective of life, the lens through which you see your momentary situations that effectively guide your future and others. How are you striving toward the great rest of eternity for yourself and others? How are you regularly reflecting on the great grace you have been given or has the riches of His mercy become common place in your life. Has the gospel of grace become so basic to you that it has lost its power to encourage excite and to elevate your mind to a place of action and purpose?

Our Attitude Toward Every Situation Displays Whether or Not We Are Focused on the Lord.

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.

For me I can get so easily frustrated when a schedule does not go according to schedule. When my plan falls a part because of simple things it is so easy to get angry. When the time or way I wanted something to happen falls apart my composure seems to go with it. In my terrified view of failing or not living up to unquantifiable expectations, often placed on myself, I truly fail. I fail the Lord because I have warped what is most important.

Maybe getting frustrated because of plans and expectations being unfulfilled because of stupid things. How about let’s talk about when you or I are simply grumpy. You know the mood. When now is not a good time to talk. When today is not the day to be around people, because well, people won’t want to see this side of you or me. When we are tired, when we are hungry, when the house is just not clean enough, when no matter how many times or how much time you dedicate to fixing _______, it just is never enough.

I am grumpy.

Well that’s good for you, and it’s probably a good idea to stay away from people when you are grumpy and not displaying the greatness of God. But, let’s focus on the root issue for both of these problems. Perspective.

I’d like to tell you it’s like gaining perspective from life, like when you are a newly wed and are living on your own completely for the first time. Those who have been there say, don’t worry you’ll figure it out. Or, perspective like when you are a first-time parent and the world has stopped around you because the life altering child is present, until you have a 5 year old pouring their own serial and are on your fourth kid laughing at the ease of the single child parent syndrome.  

No, those comparisons about situations are actually the problem.

Being grumpy, is because your joy is not found in Christ. Your perspective has been skewed. Your plan is often, if I can just salvage the moment I can regain some composure. If I can get some food, I’ll be less hangry, which is a common problem for me. If I can get a little more sleep I can feel better. If I can get just a moment to myself I will be less grumpy.

That’s the problem I run into, maybe you do to. My solutions are focused completely on me. But, we are called to not grumble, complain, and argue because of Christ not because of our circumstances.

Just like our circumstances should dictate our poor behavior our circumstances should not dictate our good. Our greatest way to honor God is to walk in humility and kindness amidst the best and the worst of circumstances.

It is difficult, dare I say impossible to do this, especially on your own. But gratefully you are not alone. And, God gives you more than you can handle because He can handle it with and for you. That’s the testimony of creation is it not. We could not create the world. We could not even care for the creation. We plant and harvest, we even build pivots to help when there is no rain, but God is what makes it grow.

Similarly, we can go through life thinking that we are what makes ourselves blameless. We who trust in the Lord for eternity trust in Him for so much more. When everything goes wrong, or when the smallest thing that sets you off, take a moment and pray. Sing a song of worship to the Lord. Let Him be what refocuses you.

Let the perspective of the King of kings be what gives you peace amidst the frustration and reasons for grumpiness. After all He is God, and He is the greatest joy you will ever no. After all He can take what is meant for evil and use it for good, do you have confidence assurance that He can use your circumstance for good?

Work With a Purpose and Rejoice When You are Empty for the Name of Jesus.

And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

We are so cautious to not over work, over achieve, to give to much that there will be nothing less. We are hesitant, we are fearful to do, to push, to live to far for Jesus and more practically for others. The words “Poured Out” do not refer to a glass half full or half empty. No, it is a glass gladly emptied with the purpose of Jesus being known.

Ask yourself and the Lord, was it cautious for Abraham to leave all he had and go to a foreign land filled with people that aimed to take advantage of him? Was it cautious of Elijah to go to a place filled with the enemies of the Lord on the mountain and challenge both them and their so called gods knowing that the king was putting prophets of the Lord to death?

Was it cautious of Jonah to run away from the Lord’s command or to go to the city of the empire’s capital aimed at killing him and his people and calling them to repent. Was it cautious or wise for Hosea to obey the Lord and marry and unfaithful prostitute? How much of his life and circumstances were given over to the Lord? The answer is the rest of His life was dedicated to someone Hosea knew was going to betray him time and time again.

Let’s just say it was not cautious for Peter to declare to the people during the Jerusalem’s celebration, “You killed the Lord!”

Being poured out for Jesus is no small task. But, if your sight is focused on Jesus you will rejoice at the opportunity to become nothing and to have nothing for the great name of Jesus. In a world full of conversations about being burnt out we neglect that those who have made the greatest movement for Jesus were those who were poured out.

Take time to rest, it is literally the first command and moment in creation where God shows us how to imitate Him. But, prior to resting, yes, prior to resting, God created the entirety of creation. So, pray over this week, pray about this moment in your life, and ask, “How can I be poured out.” How can you labor and run with the cause of Jesus being known and seen through you in such a way in which you can come before the throne of the Lord and the world and say, “I am poured out for you.”

We do this because of the God whom we follow. We live in such a way because we know who we follow. We give of ourselves, we endure stupid situations, we embrace humility at the cost of our own humiliation because Jesus is God. We are grateful and rejoice when everything in life is crumbling because of Jesus.     

Therefore, my friends, my brothers and sisters in the body of Christ Jesus do not be distracted by your momentary situations. Do not forsake what is most valuable because of the urgency of the moment. Rejoice in the fearfully spectacle that is our salvation.

Focus on Jesus in the struggle when the crops fail, when what you have always had may be taken or is, when there is a conflict that looks to be forever unresolved. Where there are countless reasons to complain, grumble, and argue find a way to be focused on the reason not to, Jesus. Give everything in your life for the simple cause of shining brighter for the Gospel through your confident assurance in the word of life.

           Questions to Consider

-       How do you work out your salvation with the understanding of the great power of God? (Philippians 2:12; Proverbs 1:7; Psalm 34:4-22; Hebrews 12:25; 1 Peter 1:17-21)

-       What does it to praise and rejoice in the Lord through you personal sacrifices for His name and others? (Psalm 23; Hebrews 13:15; James 1:2-12)

-       What would it look like if you were poured out, in other words gave everything to the Lord, this week for the name of Jesus? (Philippians 2:17-18; Colossians 1:24; 2 Corinthians 6:2-13)

-       Why would your joy through sacrifice matter? (Romans 5:1-5; 1 Corinthians 7:17; 1 Peter 1:22-2:5)