Philippians 2:12-13 (NIV)
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."
Obedience to Jesus can be a struggle, often because we simply lack the desire to do so.
The author (the Apostle Paul),has a two-part solution to the problem of obedience. First Paul speaks of working out our salvation with fear. Sometimes fear is an effective motivation that will alert us to a life of obedience. That is, the fear of the consequences of not acting, or of missing the joy found in obedience to Christ. The Bible describes perfect love as casting out fear, the fear being referenced in this passage is a different type of fear. The word "fear" in this passage is not referring to a fear of an angry God, but a fear of a God filled with expectation that his son or daughter would participate in his calling to obedience. That is, missing out on the joy that comes with obeying God. The second part of this passage indicates that it is God who works within us, giving us the “will” to obey.
So it is this internal struggle between God’s desire for us to obey…his touching of our hearts so that our “will” is to obey…and the ongoing lack of desire we find in our own selfish hearts. It’s a difficult war we wage. There will be times when obedience seems impossible because we simply lack the desire to do so.
But this passage makes it clear, that IT IS GOD, through his spirit, who puts within us our “will” to act. This is great news! This means, that it's not just us trying harder and trying to muster up the will to obey God by ourselves, but it is also in partnership with God…when we are really listening…who speaks into our hearts to obey. It is with Him that we find victory.
So if there are areas in your life in which you really struggle to obey, (i.e. relationally, financially, etc.), ask Him to help you to find the will and courage to obey. Secondly, realize that when you begin to experience the fire of fear in your life for not obeying, this may be God's loving hand gently nudging you in an area of your life in which He knows you probably wouldn’t budge on otherwise. Count that as a blessing.
Lord, deep down I find that I’m internally selfish. I need you to help me to obey what you're asking me to do. I can't do it alone. Please put in me the will to act (such and such area of your life) which is a real struggle for me. Thank you.
By: Randy Smith