Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
Let’s be honest, we have all done some grumbling these past few weeks. There’s a lot to complain about, isn’t there? Like toilet paper hoarders! Or how when I wear a homemade facemask, my breath fogs up my glasses. And of course, we face many other far more serious concerns. It’s hard to go through tough times without grumbling. It’s also hard to always obey God’s word and to lead a “blameless and pure” life. But that’s what Jesus asks of us.
Paul and the Philippian church were facing significant hardships, worse in some ways than anything we are enduring. Paul was imprisoned for sharing the good news of Jesus. The Philippian church, like many believers in the First Century, were being aggressively, even violently, opposed by religious, cultural and political forces outside the church (plus false teaching from within). Like us, they had good reason to complain. That’s why the Spirit, through Paul’s words, admonished them to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” and to “hold firmly to the word of life.” It takes strength, perseverance, determination, hard work and a firm grip to make it through hard times.
If we can stand strong in faith, trusting in God and honoring Jesus, then the world will notice. We will “shine among them like stars in the sky.” We will stand out as different, as beautifully reflective of God’s goodness, through a dark, fearful season. May Jesus help us remember that we do not labor in vain.
Almighty God, Your glory shines brightly over our dark world. Thank You for holding me close through hard moments. Forgive me for grumbling and complaining. Show me how I can honor You before others, so they can taste the goodness of Jesus. I pray in His powerful name. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian