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Shining Like Stars

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Philippians 2:12–18 NIV
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
SR Isa 24:1-6
Working out / losing weight / dieting is a common NY resolution. (117 times for me in 2019!). Paul also talks about working out.
Philippians 2:12–18 NIV
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
"Therefore.” Can’t separate this passage from the one proceeding it about Jesus’ relationship with God and humbling himself. Jesus gave up his rights and his status to stoop down to the lowest places: becoming a human, a servant, a crucified criminal. And because he obeyed God. He was “obedient to death—even death on a cross” God exalted him. And that is what the “therefore is there for.”
"Therefore.” Can’t separate this passage from the one proceeding it about Jesus’ relationship with God and humbling himself. Jesus gave up his rights and his status to stoop down to the lowest places: becoming a human, a servant, a crucified criminal. And because he obeyed God. He was “obedient to death—even death on a cross” God exalted him. And that is what the “therefore is there for.”
"Therefore.” Can’t separate this passage from the one proceeding it about Jesus’ relationship with God and humbling himself. Jesus gave up his rights and his status to stoop down to the lowest places: becoming a human, a servant, a crucified criminal. And because he obeyed God. He was “obedient to death—even death on a cross” God exalted him. And that is what the “therefore is there for.”
Paul picks up on the theme of “obedience.” Having just reminded his dear friends about Jesus’ obedience, he maybe is being deliberately somewhat crafty on the subject of their continued obedience. You’ve always obeyed when I’ve been around, but now much more when I'm not around. Hint hint. Indeed letters read aloud in the ancient world where seen as authoritative proxies standing in for and carrying the same weight as the person sending the letter (some ancient church writings signed by “apostles” not necessarily to trick people but to give them the authority of that person’s voice).
In every category you can compare yourself to Jesus, he’s better, stronger, wiser. He’s righteous and we’re in sin. He’s alive and we’re dead. He is light and we are darkness. He is riches and we are poverty. So Jesus is being held out as a model of someone who gave up instead of grabbed, who relinquished instead of held tight, who took steps down instead of climbing the ladder.
Jesus was and is better than us. In every category you can compare yourself to him, he’s better, stronger, wiser. He’s righteous and we’re in sin. He’s alive and we’re dead. He is light and we are darkness. He is riches and we are poverty.
Who are you better than? Who are you smarter than, richer than? Your house is bigger, your clothes and car are nicer. You have more education, more life experience, wisdom, talent.
Who are you better than? Who are you smarter than, richer than? Your house is bigger, your clothes and car are nicer. You have more education, more life experience, wisdom, talent.
Who can you condescend to? It’s not demeaning to condescend to someone. We sometimes use the word in a demeaning way, but it simply means:
To behave as if one is conscious of descending from a superior position, rank, or dignity. To put aside one's dignity or superiority voluntarily and assume equality with one regarded as inferior.
This condescending is the subject of Paul’s referring to obedience. We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in us.
God wills and he acts. This is not a sermon on the sovereignty of God, but I don’t think that means, God takes over. We are invited by Jesus to pray for God’s will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” This tells me that the KOG is the place (s) where God’s reign and his way are constantly heeded, and that there are places where it is not (earth) and our prayers and our acting can invite God’s presence and will where it isn’t paid attention to.
And of course God acts in uncountable and unfathomable ways to bring about the promises of his new creation. God will and acts to bring about his good purposes:
1 Corinthians 12:6 NIV
There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
Hebrews 13:20–21 NIV
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Hebrews 13:21 NIV
equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
God is at work. Are we? Are we working out? What does it mean to “work out” our salvation?
First of all I invite us to notice the corporate nature of this idea. Paul is speaking to his “dear friends.” The words he uses-- “you and your”-- are plural. And remember who the model Paul holds up for us is. Jesus, in his relationships with others, took the lowliest position. Jesus’ personal rel. with God was worked out/lived out as he lived among people in a posture of service and humility. Paul refers to a corporate process where we as a church work on our salvation together.
Well to start we do everything without grumbling and arguing. The them of unity, working together, single mindedness, is strong in Philippians.
Philippians 1:27 NIV
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel
Well to start we do everything without grumbling and arguing.
Philippians 2:1–3 NIV
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
Philippians 2:20–22 NIV
I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.
Philippians 4:2 NIV
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.
Paul is saying that we are in this together. To work out or to work “at” or work “on” our salvation is the church moving forward in harmony and unity with out grumbling/complaining or arguing. The church honoring each other above ourselves and serving each other in humility the way the Lord did. It’s being of the same mind and having a unified spirit. None of these things can be done in isolation. So as God is at work “among us” or “in our midst” (2:5) as we are working out with each other the meaning and impact of our salvation which is presented to us in the life of humility of the Christ.
One commentator says we are to “work out” what God in his grace has “worked in.”
The result of this harmony and humility is blamelessness and purity and a brilliant light like a star against a night sky. That analogy has lost some of it’s power because of modern society’s lights. Go out to Joshua Tree or Yosemite if you want to experience the beautiful night sky where the starts shine brilliantly together in a beautiful mosaic. There’s few things in life that are more spectacular or breathtaking.
So our blameless life causes us to be a witnessing community. We shine like a star “among them” (the crooked and depraved generation). How important in our time of social media outrage and political partisanship. Many hold so called deep convictions but lack the grace, humility and civility to impart those convictions to others so they just yell louder. What would it look like for a group of people to treat one another in such a way that others are considered “better than ourselves”? Well it would look like a bright shiny star of course.
And as we shine we hold firmly to the word of life. The phrase “hold firmly” is slightly ambiguous. Some versions may say “hold out” the word of life which would dovetail nicely with the idea of a shining, witnessing community. And according to R. Martin, by holding firmly we really hold out. The “Word of Life” is a synonym for the Gospel (Jesus is referred to as “the Word of Life in ). We are to hold fast to the truths of the Gospel-to Jesus himself-- “as a torchbearer would grasp securely the light he carries” and “exercise a potent influence in the midst of the dark and ignorant world” “Only as we firmly ‘hold fast’ to the gospel truth can we effectively ‘hold it out’.” (R. Martin).
So in this new year is one of your resolutions to “work out” more? This working out has much better results than just weight loss. It’s a transformed community of believers who impact the world through their witness of humility and service towards one another.
Martin, R. P. (1987). Philippians: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 11, p. 125). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Martin, R. P. (1987). Philippians: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 11, p. 125). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.(R. Martin).
Martin, R. P. (1987). Philippians: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 11, p. 125). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
One commentator says we are to “work out” what God in his grace has “worked in.”
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