Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
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 according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:3-13)
I’ve heard/read this passage many times. I’ve heard from the mouth of quite a few fiery preachers “work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” in an effort to challenge the listener into a more devout active Christian life. Well, a verse in close proximity to that verse (that you often don’t hear as much) is the verse that is stirring my heart to abandon. “…for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” It is the God of reckless love that is transforming me. The God who redefines “happy” as being poor, being meek, mourning, having a pure heart, making peace and even being persecuted. This unsafe Creator who decided to create a creature in His image who has the capacity to love, and Who when that creature returns time after time of messing up, He embraces it with open arms and celebration. That makes me want to give my heart utterly to this relationship of a loving God.
Why is it, that when it comes to doing something extraordinary one would rather try to muster humanistic energy instead of abandoning themselves to the transformative love of God? This is much more than semantics that we’re talking about here. I believe it is in part, condition of the heart. We would like a world to look and say “wow, look at you”, than to be passed over unnoticed by the public opinion and for God to be alone glorified. We often think that the great one with platform will be the one sitting closest to Jesus in the Age to Come. “The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matt 23:11-12) This is a real thing. So, my prayer as I fall more and more madly in love with God is that He’ll continue this work of purifying me. That in dealing with those around me I would be conformed to the humility of Christ. Though it may hurt unto the death of even my flesh, my prayer is that every day as I rise I will be prepared to die. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt 16:24-26) The working out of my salvation is God at work in me. As I yield to what it is that He’s doing inside of me, it is rearranging my heart, my brain and my priorities.