READ PHILIPPIANS TWO
Yesterday we considered what Paul meant when he called the Philippian believers (and us!) to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Through our word study, we saw the meaning behind the Greek word κατεργάζεσθε. But, I still wonder, what does this have to do with the overall concept of spiritual friendships in Paul’s letter? How does this verse fit into the overall theme of the letter?
Read Philippians 1:1-14 again. Read it aloud if possible.
Read Philippians 2:12-13 again. Read it aloud if possible.
When we consider the depth of spiritual friendship Paul had with the Philippians, Pauls’ emphasis on working out your own salvation makes sense. Paul has just emphasized to the believers the dramatic way in which the Spirit has knit them together with a spiritual bond. They are partners in the Gospel – believing it together, preaching it to one another, and holding it out as hope for those who do not yet know Christ. He has called them to practice unity – a unity that would be seen as extreme in our individualized culture today – in light of the Gospel they embrace. And so it makes sense that Paul includes this reminder: each of you are responsible for working out your own salvation.
There is a wonderful and glorious place for spiritual friendships in which you have all things in common. But, there is a limit to our spiritual friendships, and this is what Paul is highlighting here. While we can preach the Gospel to one another, only I can believer for myself. While we can encourage one another in the Gospel, only I can be ultimately responsible for my spiritual growth.
Consider your own spiritual growth. How have you grown in the last month?
How have you grown in the last year?
In the last five years?
Would you categorize your spiritual growth as stunted? Blooming? Steady? Stale?
Friend, only you can be ultimately responsible to partner with God in your own spiritual growth. God will bring others into your life to help you grow, encourage you to grow, and remind you to grow. But only you can take that step and say, “Here I am. Change me.”
Have you relied on others for your spiritual growth? Have you gone too far in expecting the church to cause you to grow?
In what areas of you life might the Spirit be calling you to grow now? Is there sin you need to confess? Joy He’s calling you to embrace with gratitude? A call He’s asking you to obey? A wound He’s calling you to surrender?
Thank God that while we are each responsible for our own spiritual growth, God has taken it upon Himself to ultimately be responsible for our salvation. We cannot earn our salvation, but receive it as a free gift that we do not deserve. In light of this glorious gospel, don’t you want to grow more and more into the image of your God?
PRAY & REFLECT
Ask God to reveal to you how He might be calling you to grow. Ask Him for the personal resolve by the help of His Spirit to take that step in repentance, obedience, surrender, or whatever else He might call you to.