The Reading: Philippians 2:12-18
“… holding fast the word of life …” (v.16) RSV
How do we “hold fast the word of life” (v.16)? We don’t want to be tricked out of it or deceived. We don’t want to water it down. We don’t want to forget it. But most of all we don’t want to know it and yet fail to put it into practice.
Paul writes: “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;” (v.12). This does not mean that we are responsible for saving ourselves! We cannot do that. Our salvation is a gift from our loving God. However, it does mean that we have to work out, what he has worked in. If he has given us his life, his word and his Spirit, then we are responsible for our response; we need to allow our lives to be transformed.
It is not usually ignorance that lies at the root of our lives, but disobedience and neglect. Ignorance will rob us of much that God wants to give us or warn us about. But disobedience “grieves” the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), or “quenches” the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
If the Spirit of God within us is grieved or quenched, he withdraws and recedes. His heavenly influence becomes fainter and we succumb increasingly to our unreformed ‘old’ nature.
Paul believes that his time left on earth may be short, so he is concerned that his endeavours on behalf of the Philippians (and other churches) are not going to be ruined by the Christians under his oversight cooling off and falling in love with pleasure or money or any other distraction. So far they are doing well, but they need to be kept up to the mark; it is so easy to lose one’s first love (Revelation 2:4) and to let things slip; they need to hold fast.
Paul is a good and prayerful pastor who tries to pre-empt problems. We will find the Scriptures will have a similar caring and nurturing effect on us.
Lord, take from me a lukewarm heart and renew my passion, my zeal and all that I need to serve you. Amen.
1 What did Jesus say about continuing to the end?
2 What should we do rather than grieve the Spirit?