Philippians 2:4-5, 12-13
This Monday morning I want to look ahead to the Epistle from Philippians that will be part of this coming Sunday’s lectionary, and share a portion of the verses scheduled.
“Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus. Therefore my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
We have a lot that we are responsible for, but we have usually been taught that our salvation is a gift to be accepted, and to which we respond with gratitude. Paul is telling us to work out our own salvation. Wow! How can that be correct? Paul goes on to say that it is God at work in you. God will enable you both to will and work for his pleasure. That’s good, and how do we… Oh, I get it. We are enabled, so the problem for us is to actually do it. The first part of the selected verses instructs us to be mostly concerned with the interests of others. This should not be much of a surprise. If we allow that to become a priority for us, we are on the right path.
George Herbert's prayer-poem "The Elixir" offers the three-word "as-for-thee" mantra that can transform common meals, common events, common tasks, into precious incarnations. Here is the poem:
Teach me, my God and King, In all things thee to see, And what I do in anything, To do it as for thee.
As-for-thee Christians pass the "cat and dog test" of Christianity. Hudson Taylor described the "cat and dog test" in the following way: If your father and mother, your sister and brother, if the very cat and dog in the house are not happier for your being a Christian, it is a question whether you really are."
Everything we do, we are called to do it "As-for-thee." "As-for-thee" Christians will sign as if in Christ’s name to every check, to every credit card purchase, to every voting ballot, to every decision of the church, to every … Can we be this focused? Yes we can because God is working in us to both will and do his pleasure. That is comforting for me.
Trust and Obey
Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
but our toil he doth richly repay;
not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
but is blest if we trust and obey.
Merciful God, work your will in me. Don’t allow my self interest
to get in your way. Keep me strong and courageous enough to follow your lead, and help make the world a better place in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pastor David Brosnan