12 … work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2).
Yet another mystery: we “work out our salvation,” … and yet, “it is God who is at work in us!” Now just how is that? Where does the one leave off and the other begin, or the one begin and the other leave off? How can it be said that I work at all, if it is God who is really at work? It is the age-old paradox of man’s responsibility in the midst of God’s sovereignty. I must work, yet it is God who is doing it. I work out what God is working in.
Prepositions are important. Paul does not tell us to work “for;” he tells us to work “out” — big difference! Our salvation has already been adequately worked for and completed through the cross and resurrection; we are simply charged to work out that salvation in our daily lives — and yet it is God who is working in us “both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Thus, in the end, no matter how diligently we strive to “work out,” God still gets all the credit, for we will never boast in anything but Him — even with all the treasures we might “store up in heaven” (Matthew 6:20). Actually, that we will have any treasures at all is another mystery of His grace!
Lord, thank You again for Your matchless grace, for Your Word is always full of reminders of it! Help us This Day to have a good workout. Amen.