Learning to Share
You connect as a Christian by belonging Jesus. God helps you work out your salvation by first introducing you to Jesus who saves you. That happens as the Holy Spirit leads you to someone who knows Jesus.
“Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12, CSB)
The first way to be a Christian STAR is to belong. In this sense, belonging is about what is being shared. We are always trying to connect or stay connected. Here, we have four different connections that Christians SHARE.
FOUR CONNECTIONS FOR THE CHRISTIAN
1. I share a connection with other Christians “Dear friends”
As Christians, we connect in different ways. We connect. locally to a group of believers. These believers may be biologically related. But our connection to one another transcends biology. The spirit will last longer than the body. Paul calls the people friends. Even though Paul is far away from this local church of Philippi, he is still connected with them.
When you belong to a group, one of the characteristics is sharing. You share what you have in common. Paul called the Philippians “dear friends” not because he was a fellow Philippian. Instead, what was in common was their relationship to Jesus. You and I don’t have what is in common because of our locality. We are not Washburnites or Seligmanites. We are Christians.
When people share something, they share what they have in common. We share a common faith. We SHARE in a common community. Therefore, we will connect in different ways. Philippians 2:12 shows us four different connections for the Christian. The reason I want to emphasize this connection now is that we live in a world that is very disconnected.
Because we belong to one another, we share. We share our faith. We share our stories. We share our experiences. We share our struggles. We share our joys. One of the themes that Paul emphasizes here is the cooperate nature of the church. The fact is that you and I can’t live this Christian alone. We need each other. To be a Christian star, I need to connect with others.
2. I share a connection with God “Obeyed”
As Christians, we also connect with God through obedience. Paul was not present when he wrote this letter to the Philippians. Paul encouraged the church to work out the salvation through obedience while he was not there. One of the lessons that we learn is that you and I need to be obedient to God even when other people are not watching.
Jesus is responsible for my salvation. I am responsible for my growth. We are responsible to each other to help one another when any of us struggle in that growth. This is what Paul is talking about when he says that “even more in my absence.” Paul had to leave because he was in prison. But he didn’t want others to leave the community.
3. I share a connection with God’s Word “Work out your own salvation”
HOW TO WORK OUT MY SALVATION
The verb “work out” carries the meaning of “work to full completion,” such as working out a problem in mathematics. In Paul’s day, it was also used for “working a mine,” that is, getting out of the mine all the valuable ore possible; or “working a field” so as to get the greatest harvest possible. Our lives have tremendous potential, like a mine or a field, and He wants to help us fulfill that potential.1
This is the reason why we share the same Bible. There are 66 books that make up the canon of Scripture. The Bible is designed to help a Christian “work out their own salvation.”
Scrabble is a challenging game. It involves the bringing together of letters to form words. Although at first glance this may seem like an easy game to play because there are only twenty-six letters in the English alphabet, these letters come together to form enough words to fill the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Library of Congress, and the World Wide Web!
The game of Scrabble involves the ordering of items that originally have no implicit order. The words already exist, but the letters must be arranged a certain way to be made into words. The goal of this game is for players to set out letters so that they now make sense.
Christians are to live their lives in a way that their actions come together to form the picture of salvation. Salvation is a gift and for the Christian already exists. The goal of living the Christian life is to arrange one’s lifestyle so that it now looks like the existence of a person saved by grace.2
4. I share a connection with the Holy Spirit “Fear and trembling”
Why do I say that “fear and trembling” represents a connection with the Holy Spirit? The words represent fear or phobias and trembling or vibrating. The idea here is that I am working out my salvation because I respect the Holy Spirit in my life.
“Among unsettling thoughts from visions in the night, when deep sleep comes over men, fear and trembling came over me and made all my bones shake. I felt a draft on my face, and the hair on my body stood up. A figure stood there, but I could not recognize its appearance; a form loomed before my eyes. I heard a whispering voice: “Can a mortal be righteous before God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?” If God puts no trust in his servants and he charges his angels with foolishness, how much more those who dwell in clay houses, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed like a moth!” (Job 4:13–19, CSB)
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.” (Proverbs 1:7, CSB)
“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— a Spirit of wisdom and understanding, a Spirit of counsel and strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” (Isaiah 11:2, CSB)
“Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28, CSB)
“So the church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.” (Acts 9:31, CSB)
The reason is because He demands respect is because the Holy Spirit has the role of conviction and leading in my life. I don’t just worship to feel the Spirit. I worship because I desire to submit to the Spirit. When I don’t submit to the Spirit, there are consequences.
So I work out my salvation or spiritual growth because of the Holy Spirit.
There are some Christians whose lives are like a parked car—if God wants them to move down the road of life, He will have to push them Himself.
Others live the Christian life by keeping their car washed and polished—looking good on the outside—but they fail to give proper attention to the engine that supplies the power.
Still, others live the Christian life by holding the steering wheel and patiently waiting for instructions on where and when to go. Their car has been gassed up by the presence of the Holy Spirit who freely gives His power and counsel for the journey ahead: a lifetime of adventure in the Spirit!
Are you like that parked car? Waiting for a push? Or can your life be described as one that looks good on the outside but lacks power on the inside?
Your most powerful force will be to learn how to sit in God’s presence and use His power and counsel to work out your salvation. The only thing the Lord will not provide is the decision to sit behind the wheel and drive. This is a choice of the will that each one of us must make.3
As we will see, Philippians 2:12 talks about “working out my salvation” and Philippians 2:13 talks about “working in me.” But God can’t work for me if I am not working with Him. I can’t be working with God if I am not sharing with God. God wants to cooperate with me in my entire Christian life. Because my Christian life is bigger than me. It takes people other than me to help me. It takes God working with me, in me, and through me to be a real Christian STAR.
1 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 77.
2 Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 37.
3 Leadership Ministries Worldwide, Practical Illustrations: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians (Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 2001), 37.