Will you commit to ‘working out your salvation’?

By Landis Brown, DMin

Southside FWB Church, Darlington

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 trem-bling.”

Have you ever started a gym membership but have yet to fully commit to going regularly or at all? Maybe, you only went once or twice but were never fully committed. Gym memberships see a rise in sales at the beginning of each new year with resolutions people make; however, only a few ever commit to keeping those resolutions.  Commitment and hard work toward any goal is often overturned by comfort and complacency. Though many may have seemed com-mitted, those who quit the gym after a few days or weeks were less committed than they thought they were. Their past lifestyle of comfort, pleasure eating, and the absence of stress regarding weight and health seems more appealing. Excuses become inevitable, and some say regarding their commitment to the gym, “this is far too hard to keep this workout regimen up; I have a job, I have a family, I feel like I’m starving all the time, and my body hurts.” Soon any urge to continue in this commitment is none and void, and what once seemed like an exciting new journey to health and longevity quickly becomes a dreadful and debilitating task. 

Like any new year’s resolution, the Christian walk, yet on a much grander scale, takes commit-ment and hard work. As Paul calls it, this “walking in the newness of Life” takes discipline, ded-ication, and constant reminders that we are in a fallen condition in need of God’s grace.  Christ does not just save us and expect us to stay where we are in our Christian maturity; he expects us to grow, become mature, and continue in a process called sanctification. When you are saved, you immediately begin the sanctification process, meaning you continue to be set apart for God. Sanctification in its root is where we get our word Saint, which means to be separated or called out. Although we are set apart immediately, we continue to grow through the process of sanctification. Our goal in our growth is to become increasingly like Christ. This is why Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:13 that we should strive individually and as a body of believers to reach “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”  

Paul in Philippians 4:12 is calling believers to continue to work out their salvation, particularly their sanctification, with fear and trembling. He is calling them to stay committed to growing in the likeness of Christ. In this imperative, there is a sense in which Paul calls believers not to grow complacent in their walk with Christ.  He also calls believers to not just to work out their salvation while others are watching, but to continue to always do so.  Paul urgently states, “So then, my beloved, just as you 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.” Paul says even when I am not with you, and you are alone without the benefit of others holding you accounta-ble, continue to stay committed to growing in your likeness to Christ. It is effortless to continue living holy and striving to be holy while others watch. However, in the alone hours at our homes or our workplaces, are we continuing to work out our salvation and striving to grow in the likeness of Christ when others are not watching? 

Paul uses the word “Work out,” presenting the action we are commanded to take regarding our salvation. The Greek word Katergazomai means to exercise, labor, make gains, perform or ac-quire with maximum effort. The meaning is stronger than our English translations can render. Paul is commanding the individual to make it their life’s work to carry this task out, bringing it to the goal of being more and more like Christ as time progresses. Paul is not telling us to work for our salvation but since we are saved, we are to continue to work to grow in Christ. For the believer to magnify Christ in his life and death, as Paul denotes in the earlier chapter of Philip-pians, this working out of one’s salvation is not optional but a must. Unlike gym memberships or workout programs, commitments are optional. The workouts performed in a gym occur within a certain time frame; however, the workout Paul calls for within this text is consistent and non-stop. The process of sanctification requires our effort and commitment. Which choice will you make? Will you continue to press towards growing in Christ or grow idle in your Chris-tian walk to only become stagnant? May the Lord richly bless you, Grace to you and Peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Author: Stephan Drew

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