Philippians 2:12-16 (NIV)
Do Everything Without Grumbling
“12 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, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[a] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life…”
Here, Paul continues to exhort and praise the Philippians for their faith and actions. As we read in (V 12), these Christians were sincere in their beliefs, as they lived them regardless of whether or not Paul was present among them.
He goes on in the same verse to encourage them to continue to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Some may wonder just what Paul meant by that remark. This is where I like to get the opinions of some of the commentators who may shed some new light on a passage.
In my favorite “work bible,” entitled “The NIV Study Bible, copyright 1995, Zondervan,” here is what one pundit has to say about the remark:
” Work out your salvation…Work it out to the finish; not a reference to the attempt to earn one’s salvation by works, but to the expression of one’s salvation in spiritual growth and development. Salvation is not merely a gift received once for all; it expresses itself in an ongoing process in which the believer is strenuously involved…[in] the process of perseverance, spiritual growth, and maturation.”
The true believer, once saved in the body of Christ, continues to study, pray, and grow in faith. We look for ways to serve others in the name of the Lord, and to share the goodness of God’s grace which we have in Christ Jesus.
Turning back now to the commentator, we find this remark: “Fear and trembling…Not because of doubt or anxiety; rather the reference is to an active reverence and a singleness of purpose in response to God’s grace.”
This remark speaks to the humbleness with which we live before God and others, respecting the Lord, as well as, others in appreciation for the gift to forgive our sins which we have from our loving Father through Christ Jesus.
Remember, we are not our own, we are bought with a price and belong to God. As such, we live our lives with a conviction to our Christian beliefs always present in the way we live out our lives. We are the Lord’s “open book” to others, an example of God’s goodness!
Paul furthers his thought in (V 13) as he mentions that God works in us to “will and to act” according to His good purpose. If we resolve to put our faith into action in our lives, then obedience to the Father’s purposes will be done; the two thoughts go hand-in-hand.
Therefore, in living out the instructions in verses 12-13, the apostle asks in (VV 14-15) that the church do everything commanded of the Father without complaining or arguing in order to remain blameless and pure in a crooked and perverse generation.
Many of us today feel that the world is a very bad and scary place, and is becoming worse every day; and they would be right. However, we must remember that this earth has always been evil, despite some of the good we see being done. Let us not forget that God once destroyed the wicked by way of the flood in Genesis chapter six…
But as believers, we want to distance ourselves as far from the evildoers as we can. However, if we complain and argue about carrying out the will of God at times, we are simply joining in with those Godless souls!
If we grumble about our duties in Christ Jesus, it can be considered an expression of unbelief, or certainly a lack of appreciation for our Savior’s work, in both the eyes of people and our Father. We must remember how privileged we are to have been called to God’s side, and what a hope we have in Him to come.
Also, we must avoid arguments and disputes among our brothers and sisters over contentious matters which do not need to be settled in the scriptures. These include things like whether a brother’s hair is too long, or a woman’s head is not covered in church.
Does it really matter what a fellow believer chooses to wear to a church social? Such things do not affect the more important matter of salvation. In consideration of this fact, we are told not to bicker or fight over such “debatable” things.
Finishing in (VV 15b-16a), if we do these things which Paul is asking, we will “shine as stars in the universe,” holding out the “word of life” to others in the name of the Lord. And in the final analysis, that is the most important thing we can do for our Lord; to spread His word to this very needy world.
Let us, then, live our lives in accordance with the instructions we find in these few verses of God’s precious word. For we can certainly see in reviewing this passage how important it is to live each day as the best Christian we can be.
May the Lord bless all who do the will of God in their lives without question, sharing Jesus with the others around us in any way we can!
- “The NIV Study Bible, copyright 1995, Zondervan”