Last week, we talked a little about humble obedience and how important it is in becoming more Christ-like. But what does that look like, practically speaking? How do we know if we are being obedient to the Lord and why is it really that important?
In Philippians 2:12-18 Paul gives us three ways to practice humble obedience and why it matters:
LIVE OUT YOUR FAITH (verses 12-13)
Paul says to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Okay, Emily, what does that mean..I thought we were saved by grace, not by working it out ourselves in fear!
I promise this verse isn’t a contradiction! What Paul is saying here is that when you are saved, you want to act on it because you don’t want to live the life you lived before (that’s the working out your salvation part) and you do this with a holy reverence of God that trembles at the thought of sin (that’s the fear and trembling part). It’s kind of like if you were raised in a Christian home, you live out your parents’ faith until you come to the realization that it has to be a personal choice. Paul is telling the Philippians “don’t live out my faith, live out your own!”
And once you make that choice and you start becoming more like Christ, the thought of sin will be totally awful to you so you’ll do anything you can to run from it! Living out your faith looks like desiring a different way than the way of the world.
2. BE JOYFULLY STEADFAST (verses 14-16)
So now that you’re living out your own faith with a hate for sin, you’ve got to find a way to be in it for the long haul, because it is a loooooong haul, amiright? How do we do this? Paul tells us to “do all things without complaining or arguing.” The Greek word for “all things” is literally all things.
Try this: throughout your day, every time you complain or argue about something, make a tally on a piece of paper or your phone. Then go crawl into bed and cry and complain about how hard it is to not complain! Boop. This one feels impossible.
We can laugh (or cry) about how impossible it feels, but Paul says it’s super important because people who don’t complain or argue stand out. Think about that person in your life who always seems to just joyfully go with the flow. If you’re even able to think of someone like this, they’re probably rare. Paul is telling us that in order to look like Jesus in this world, we must become this rare person! And we all know our world desperately needs this kind of influence because each day this world becomes darker and more hopeless. When we are joyfully steadfast in our run towards eternity with the Lord, we will “shine as lights in the world” against “a crooked and twisted generation” of unbelievers.
3. LET MINISTRY BRING JOY (verses 17-18)
Paul uses some Jewish/religious language in verses 17-18, but what he’s essentially saying is “even if I have to sacrifice everything in order to help you know Jesus better, I will do it with joy!” Wow. I know I don’t feel this way about ministry super often, and I’m a pastor’s wife! People can be really draining or hurtful, and I naturally just want to run away and get comfy on my couch to protect myself from getting hurt instead of drawing myself deeper into those people’s lives. Ministry is messy. But Paul says we’re supposed to live the same way, choosing joy in the mess instead of avoiding the mess.
So friends, joyfully (and boldly!) go live out your love for Jesus in humble obedience, so the world can see it and want more of it!