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, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. - Philippians 2:12-13
To truly follow Jesus, we must start from the foundation that God chose us first. We did not clean ourselves up, decide to try hard and do good works, and thus capture God's attention and favor. God is the author of our salvation and our transformation. This is good news! If God's love and acceptance of us depended in any way on our performance, we would be in a constant state of anxiety, always wondering if we were measuring up. God's love and acceptance of us - as shown on the cross - is complete, total, and final. Therefore, rather than be preoccupied with earning and maintaining our standing with God, we are freed to respond to this unchanging love with deep gratitude and adoration.
With our feet firmly planted on this foundation, take seriously the call to work out the significance of gospel in our lives. These truths are revealed to us by the Holy Spirit as we press into the depths of what we do and why. As we absorb the truth and reality of God's love and acceptance, we change. Rather than chase after the praise of your boss to give you significance, you start to realize that your significance is in God's acceptance of you, and you are free to work hard whether your boss praises you or not. Rather than inwardly grumble as an annoying acquaintance drones on and on, you can reflect on the fact that you, too, were hard to love, and yet Christ laid His life down for you, an enemy. As you savor that truth, you can pursue this acquaintance focused not on your own comfort but in striving after the example of Jesus. This process - empowered by the Spirit and worked out in close relationship with God's people over a lifetime - is how we grow and mature as a disciple.
- Tim Gillen