God completes the work.
And yet we can strive, can’t we? When we try to complete the work of God in our own strength, though, it backfires big time. God completes the work as we humble ourselves and surrender to His Lordship.
We are starting a new book today – the book of Philippians!
Paul wrote this letter to the church at Philippi from jail. He wrote to thank the church for their help provided to him while in prison and to remind them to be united.
Paul is thanking the believers for their prayers and partnership. He endured a lot of opposition but the believers at the church of Philippi were faithful partners with Paul. Paul begins with an encouragement to the church at Philippi of who would complete the work began in them.
Scripture of the Day: Philippians 1:6
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
We can get caught up in good works even after we have received grace, can’t we?
Now God completing the work in us does not mean we don’t still work out our salvation with fear and trembling as Paul says in the very next chapter in Philippians 2:12:
“Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
But there is an awareness that we cannot accomplish this salvation. Anything good in us is from Christ alone. There is a dependency on Christ.
As it says in Isaiah 26:12 (NLT): “Lord, you will grant us peace; all we have accomplished is really from you.”
God Completes the Work as we Obey.
This takes the pressure off in one regard, but also is such a good reminder that we are not to take the glory – and we need to be abiding in a relationship with Jesus in order to bear this fruit. And part of this working out our salvation is to endure suffering in this life. And to endure it well for the sake of Christ.
As it says in Phil. 1:29, “For it has been granted to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.”
Paul taught them how to endure, stating that even being imprisoned served to advance the Gospel in v. 12-20:
“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually advanced the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard, and to everyone else, that my imprisonment is because I am in Christ. 14 Most of the brothers have gained confidence in the Lord from my imprisonment and dare even more to speak the word[d] fearlessly.
15 To be sure, some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of good will. 16 These preach out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, thinking that they will cause me trouble in my imprisonment. 18 What does it matter? Only that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is proclaimed, and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice 19 because I know this will lead to my salvation[e] through your prayers and help from the Spirit of Jesus Christ. 20 My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all courage, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”
Paul did not care about himself – just God’s glory and that the Gospel continued to be preached.
Is this how we live our lives?
It can be so hard not to get caught up in the worries of this life. And concern over what others think of us. Paul did not go there – he had many people who were against him, but he said as long as the Gospel was preached, that was all that mattered. Sweet surrender and such an example of standing for in Christ.
As it says in Philippians 1:27,
“Just one thing: As citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, in one accord, contending together for the faith of the gospel.”
Paul learned a secret – this life is not about us, but about Christ. If we live this life just for self, we miss it. But if we live for God, we gain eternity and live worthy lives here on earth.
Philippians 1:21: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
God Completes the Work as We Humble Ourselves
Friends, in Phil. 2 Paul shares one of the main keys to living this life.
Be humble. This means we don’t get easily offended – or how about not offended at all? Consider others as better than ourselves.
“If, then, there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others.
God Completes the Work as We Have the Mind of Christ
“5Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. 7 Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, 8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross. 9 For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth—11 and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
God Completes the Work to Do His Will
12 “Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose. 14 Do everything without grumbling and arguing, 15 so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world, 16 by holding firm to the word of life.”
We all fall short, but humility is not denigrating ourselves. Humility is acknowledging our shortcomings but not staying there. It means we repent and turn away from godless behavior. It means we have more concern for the person offending us than in being offended.
Humility is not something we can achieve
It is something Christ can work in us.
Be humble or be humbled.
I think it was C.S. Lewis who said, “Humiliity is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”
“The Greek word translated “humility” in Colossians 3:12 and elsewhere literally means “lowliness of mind,” so we see that humility is a heart attitude, not merely an outward demeanor. One may put on an outward show of humility but still have a heart full of pride and arrogance. Jesus said that those who are “poor in spirit” would have the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3).
Being poor in spirit means that only those who admit to an absolute bankruptcy of spiritual worth will inherit eternal life. Therefore, humility is a prerequisite for the Christian.”
“Jesus was not ashamed to humble Himself as a servant (John 13:1-16), even to death on the cross (Philippians 2:8). In His humility, He was always obedient to the Father and so should the humble Christian be willing to put aside all selfishness and submit in obedience to God and His Word. True humility produces godliness, contentment, and security.”
- Be humble or be humbled.
- Good works are not our salvation. Christ is.
- God completes the work in us as we surrender to is Lordship.
7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan
Day #182: Philippians 1-2
Scripture of the Day: Philippians 1:6
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