PHILIPPIANS 2:12-15: “Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” NLT
OBSERVATION: Is my light shining brightly, or am I merely a dim flickering light that is about to go out? Am I allowing the Lord to trim my wick so that I can shine brightly? Am I reaching my full potential in Jesus Christ my Lord?
Paul exhorts the Philippian believers – “…Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.” Some will pause and ask – “Is Paul teaching righteousness by good works?” We need to stay focused on the order of Paul’s exhortation to answer this question.
While Paul does call us to “work hard,” it is not to earn a right standing with God (righteousness by works). Rather, it is to give evidence to the authentic faith that we have received when we trusted in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Paul gives us this progression and perspective in his letter to the Ephesians.
- “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:8-10 NLT
Here is the progression:
- God saved me by His grace when I believed.
- There was nothing I did or could do to earn this right standing with God, so there is no room for boasting, save in His grace!
- We were created to give glory to God, to shine as bright lights, by doing the good things He planned for us long ago.
- Our salvation by grace is seen by our good works through faith as we walk after the Holy Spirit!
This is the same progression Paul gives us in these verses in Philippians 2:12-15:
“Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.”
Our good works, our light, are not something we do to earn favor with God. Our good works are the evidence, the results of our favor with God through faith in Jesus Christ.
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. “
Our good works are not the result of our human effort. Rather, they are merely the cooperation of our spirit with the Spirit of God. He calls us, He empowers us, He leads us. We simply respond to this outpouring of grace through obedience.
“Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you.”
We don’t grumble and complain as we walk in His grace. Our light is not an effort. It is the natural result of a life yielded to God and empowered by His Holy Spirit. Instead of grumbling, our lives are marked by an ever-increasing joy and contentment. He is peace, our righteousness, our joy!
“Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.”
Our lights shine ever brighter as we begin to walk in a growing surrender to the Lord. The picture Paul uses here is the innocent life of a child. A child walks in complete faith in their parents. They know that their parents will be there to provide them with anything they need. A child’s faith reflects the pure oil of the Holy Spirit. When we are walking after the Holy Spirit, in childlike faith, His pure oil will shine brightly in our lives as we grow in our surrender and faith.
Why is this so important? Why do we need to respond to God’s grace each moment of our life? It is because we live in a world full of crooked and perverse people. We live in a world of lost people who need to be pointed in the direction of salvation.
These lost people need a light!
In the vast auditorium of life, we have been given the assignment of being those lights. The more we respond to God’s grace, the brighter we will shine. The Holy Spirit is trimming the wicks of our hearts so that the oil of His Presence can burn brightly. We are not the source of this light. Jesus is the light. We are the expression of His light so that we can lead others to His light. We are like the attendants in the dark theatre, shining our lights, and leading others to their seats – their purpose and calling in Christ.
Using a candle analogy, the Holy Spirit is the wax, and we are the wick. If there is only a wick and there is no wax, our lights will flare up and quickly burn out. The wick was not created to be the source of light. The wick simply draws from the melted wax and it is the wax that burns, not the wick. However, if the wick is not trimmed, or if it becomes corrupted with the wrong materials, the flow of wax will be impeded. The result will either be a diminished flame or an extinguished flame.
This is why we must give our lives daily in full surrender to Jesus Christ! It is only as we walk in obedience to the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives, that we experience the brightness of His life shining through us. And, our true purpose and joy in life are only realized as we burn brightly for His glory. In the words of the old hymn,
“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy (burn brightly) in Jesus, than to trust and obey!”
Lord, this morning, I want to burn brightly for You! I ask You to continue to trim the wick of my heart so that the oil of the Holy Spirit will not be hindered but will burn brightly in my life. Help me to walk in the good works and purposes You have called me to, even before I was created. And, let me be a light to lead others to faith in Jesus Christ.
In Jesus Name!