“work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12b-13)
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” For many this has been a difficult scripture, a shell that’s kept them from becoming who God sees them as. It’s often been twisted by religion to be a tool of behavior control instead of letting it be the blessing it is. The key to understanding it isn’t focusing on fear, it’s knowing God is the one who works in you, for you are His pleasure. God has worked in your salvation, now you get to work it out of you, to live it. “Work out” means “to accomplish, complete, become the author.” It’s not the fear of God rejecting you because you haven’t worked for salvation hard enough, it’s overflowing who He is out of the new life Jesus has won for you on the cross. It’s being empowered to write the story of your life in Christ as you walk with Him in loving obedience.
The “fear and trembling” are a recognition of the enormity of all you get to release to the world: His love, mercy, hope, healing, peace, joy, kindness, and goodness. Working out your salvation is a holy awe manifesting in a purposeful determination to not live below the level of His grace. It’s all about loving others as God loves you. That’s the reverential fear—knowing you’re capable of holding back love because you’ve fallen into judging who is worthy of it or not. Staying fixed on who God is for you, and grateful for all He’s done, keeps you humbly aware of who you are in Him, and joyfully recognizes of how He sees everyone else.
Be blessed, not stressed. Crack your shell right now by taking a few minutes to thank Jesus for all He’s done, and let His love for you push out every frustration and stressor. Ask Him who He wants to be for you today, and how He wants you to live that, for yourself and others.
“Don’t be afraid,” Jesus said. “Take courage. I am here!” (Matthew 14.27).