“Work out your own salvation with …”

Those of you who are young know what it is to have “a workout”; I understand it as a simple way of saying ‘exercising to keep yourself fit’. It is just as important; well, actually far more important, to keep ourselves spiritually fit. If you are really young and feel very physically fit, then make sure your aim is also to grow up spiritually fit.

In our Philippians readings this morning this phrase occurs. Paul writes, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (2:12,13).

That’s a fantastic verse … God works in us! But if we are not interested in him and do not meditate on his involvement in our lives, then we cannot expect him to watch over us in whatever “workout” we choose. If we choose to “workout” in God’s way then we will be training ourselves to think and act in a Christ like way and we will use our lives to serve him.

For example, we will aim to follow Paul’s advice by “being in full accord and one mind” with those also in training. Paul’s counsel is “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (2:2,3).

We have also been reading Ezekiel and the Jews he knew totally failed the spiritual “workout” God expected of them. He had been patient with them over many generations but now all sorts of terrible things happened to them, as we are now reading. Let us fully appreciate that our God is very patient; he wants us to be saved, to be in his wonderful kingdom which will soon come on this earth, but the failure of his people in the days of Ezekiel is a lesson to us.

Just as we do physical exercises – especially the young – but also those not so young who still want to feel “young” in the same way both young and old must exercise their minds about God and Jesus by reading the God’s word.

In that way we will know what to pray for – and our prayers will be answered and we will “work out your own salvation” and God and His Son will “work” in us.

But if we only pray when we are in trouble, is it fair to expect God to answer? Trouble is certainly coming on this earth – we will need to be fully spiritually fit to cope with it. How is your “workout” progressing?