I love the glorious and unequal harmony of Philippians 2:12b-13. These precious verses reveal an unequal team that collaborates to accomplish something of great significance – our sanctification.
We are unequal partners, like a father and a small child in a rowing boat. We are partners. We each have an indispensable role and responsibility for progress. And yet our Father in heaven has the greater responsibility and commitment to our progress.
We are to work out our life response to the good news of what God has done for us in Jesus – this is our responsibility (vs12b).
And yet we do so, knowing that God is working within us — working in the realm of our desires, causing us to want to live in such a way that we please God (vs13).
Both oars are in the water pulling, but we would never hope to make any progress if it were not for the work of God in our hearts changing our very desires so that we begin to want what God wants more and more.
On the back of this confidence that God is at work within every believer, Paul commands the Philippian believers to; “do all things without grumbling or disputing” (vs14). This is only possible through the enabling work of the Holy Spirit, changing us from the inside out.
We are to embrace life and life’s circumstances free from the quiet murmerings of discontent (‘grumbling’) and free from more public debate and arguments (‘disputes’). We are urged to live in such a way so that we might be blameless, known for our innocence as believers in Jesus – God’s children.
Merely seeking to work out obedience to this one command contained in vs14 will make us extra-ordinary people to those around us.
Grumbling and moaning are like national sports in South Africa at the moment. But we are not to be like this as God’s children.
We are also to avoid public spats, disputes that do nothing to advance the cause of Christ. Social media posts and comments that have no real building potential come to mind.
We are to be those who shine amid great darkness, those who shine like stars amid a crooked and twisted generation. We are called to be different, to be holy as God enables us and places within us the desire to please Him.
We live this way by holding ‘fast to the word of life’ (vs16). God’s word is our road map, our guiding light as we navigate through life seeking to honour God in all we do as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling (vs12b).
Questions for Reflection:
- How does seeing your role & God’s role in your sanctification in vs12b-13 change your understanding of progress in sanctification (becoming more and more like Jesus)?
- Is there anything you have been grumbling about or disputing that you feel God is wanting to speak to you about from this passage? What is God saying He wants from you?
- In what ways do you feel God wants you to shine amidist the darkness around you? What is God challenging you to do, or to stop doing so as to shine?