WORKING OUT PEACE
The anxiety you feel right now is an opportunity for God to show you how His peace, that is already in you through His Holy Spirit as His child, can still come out of you and overcome the anxiety in you. His presence of peace in you is greater than the anxiety coming from the circumstances around you. Certainly ask God to change your circumstances, but my experience is, God wants to often times teach me how to have peace in the adverse circumstances of my life. Why? I believe because the circumstances create an opportunity for me to get to know Jesus better. And isn’t that what life is all about? To know Him!
Here is the question we want to focus on, “How do you work out the peace of God in your life that is already working inside of you?”
Paul said it best in Philippians 2:12, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,”
We must work it out with fear and trembling.
What does that mean?
Paul begins verse 12 with “therefore” or “in light of”, but what is it in “In light of.” Paul is referring back to the previous verses about Christ. Paul is telling them to do what Christ did in the previous verses in Philippians 2:1-11. What did Christ do?
Philippians 2:1-11 tells us that Christ emptied himself. He emptied himself of his will and made himself completely receptive to God’s Will.
He tells them to “work out their salvation.” What does that mean? It means He wants us to work out-what we do to ourselves (fill ourselves with worry and anxiety) and work in what God does for us. He gives us peace. To “work out” means like working out a math problem, to its logical conclusion. What’s your work out plan to rid yourself of the anxiety you are going through so you can experience God’s peace inside of you?
How do we work out what God has already worked in us?
You can’t work out what isn’t in there already. We can’t work out salvation inside of us if it isn’t inside of us. We have to first accept Christ as our Savior. Then the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us to help us work out this salvation. Does the Holy Spirit live inside of you? You might say, “I don’t know.” Have you given your life to JESUS? YES, then the Holy Spirit lives inside of you.
Working out our salvation is not possible if you have not accepted Christ as your Savior. But once you have, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of you and then with His partnership you can “work out” your salvation. You can experience practically in your everyday life the unlimited resources of peace, joy, and hope that accompany the Holy Spirit’s presence inside of you.
“Work out” means, to actively pursue maturity and grow up in Christ. So, don’t quit. Don’t get complacent. None of us have this life of faith all figured out. We are all in a process of growing or declining but we never stay stagnant, we are always going one direction or the other. What is your wake-up call right now? Is it cancer, covid, long term unemployment, a painful loss, a betrayal, uncertainity in your future in some area? God wants us to work this out WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING.
What does that mean?
The “fear and trembling” he experiences is the attitude Christians are to have in pursuing this goal—a healthy fear of offending God through disobedience and an awe and respect for His majesty and holiness.
Fear and trembling simply means, “Approach God with humility and ask him for His peace to be increased to a greater measure than the anxiety you are experiencing. Say to Him, “Lord, I humbly ask for your peace to be increased in me. I need it Lord to get through my day. Please help me Lord.”
And guess what? God will. Look at what Paul says in Philippians 2:13, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
If you ask God for an increased measure of His peace, He will give it to you. Trust Him and ask. You will be amazed. Your circumstances may not change, but you will.
Now God knows our demeanor in these moments and He very clearly addresses it in Philippians 2:14, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing,”
Let me say it another way, “Empty yourself of your right to complain and do what God is telling you to do.”
How do you work out the peace of God in our lives that is already working inside of us? You and I must stop complaining about our lives and simply obey what God is asking us to be and do.
Do what God is telling you to do. You might feel like you are above what he is asking you to do. Look at this story in the Old Testament…
2 Kings 5:1 Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.[a] 2 Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” 4 So Naaman went in and told his lord, “Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.” 5 And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”
So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels[b] of gold, and ten changes of clothing.6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” 7 And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.”
8 But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.”9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” 11 But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. 12 Are not Abana[c] and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
What has God asked you to do that you think is silly, unnecessary, embarrassing, difficult, unwanted, maybe you think you are above it, or you think in your mind, in is just down right dumb? Tell God today, Yes, I will do it. I will obey.
Now go do it before your pride gets the best of you again.
Why does God wants us to do what He is asking us to do? Paul tells us in Philippians 2:15, “that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,”
If you will obey Him, it will make you more effective as His witness to others in this world. He will make sure of that.
If you and I work out the peace of God in our lives that is already working inside of us? We can expect obedience to create peace in us that affects others.
You know what is amazing about you working out your peace by being obedience to Christ? It creates an innocence in you that becomes attractive to others and begins to impact other believers and nonbelievers to see in you something they want.
When I sit down with people who are in great unrest and anxiety (which is a lot of people) and they say, “Aren’t you worried?” I say, “Well, I see the concerns, but I believe God’s got it and if He wants me to do anything about it, He will let me know, and I will do it. Otherwise, it is my job to pray and support others who are to do something about it.”
But you know what, I am not going to be able to say that unless I apply Philippians 2:16, “holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”
We have to hold on to God’s Word, be in God’s Word, and apply God’s Word to our lives if we hope to maintain any sense of peace in this world. If you and I are going to work out the peace of God in our lives that is already working in us we have to hold fast to God’s Word.
What does it mean to hold fast to God’s Word?
“Holding fast” in the Bible literally means to hold your position, or fix your gaze and not lose sight of. So, if we hold fast to God’s Word we are fixing our gaze on God by reading His Word and applying it to our lives regardless of our circumstances.
You might say, “yeah, but what if it gets really bad? What if it cost me my life to follow Christ?”
Look at Paul’s final words in this section in Philippians 2:17, “Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.”
Paul is saying, “Even if my faith ends up costing me my life, it is worth it.”
How about you? Are you willing to seek God’s peace regardless of what it costs you?
The peace of Christ will never rule in your heart until the cost of peace is worth it.
Trust me, it will be worth in the end.