S224P3 – At work within us: God himself

Php. 2:12-13

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now 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 do for His good pleasure.

It was a common scene for him.  He would face an obstacle that he did not want to face, but he knew that it was a challenge he had to overcome.  His visceral reaction would be to avoid and avert for as long as he was able.  Eventually, that obstacle would pop up over and over until he realized that he had to do something about it.  In those moments, no matter how much he tried to make himself move forward in battle, he simply could not.  There was a small voice, however, that would begin speaking in his mind and encourage him to face the challenge head on.  It was not his voice, and he knew it, but it was strong enough and clear enough to make him move and behave like the warrior he thought he could not be.

The Bible instructs us on many spiritual disciplines that we must practice in order to develop through the sanctification process.  Much of this is a matter of deciding to follow God instead of following sin and our flesh.  We fight to get to that place where walking in his holy manner is second nature.  We work and work, yet it still seems difficult to will ourselves to make the right decisions.  In those moments, it is invaluable to remind ourselves that God himself works within us both to create a desire to obey him and to walk out that obedience.  It is He who makes us want him more and then makes us able to live according to that desire.  We do not work out our salvation on our own.  Our gracious heavenly Father is right there with us not only encouraging us but helping us fulfill his very will when we simply cannot get there.

I always have been amazed by the idea of a perfect God creating a set of requirements for me and then He himself making it possible for me to fulfill those requirements.  One cannot receive more grace than that.  It is not that He makes it completely easy and requires nothing of us at all.  On the contrary, He asks us to relinquish everything we are and have even though that is nowhere near sufficient to get the job done.  Yet, He takes all of it, as shoddy and beat up as it is, and He adds himself to fill in the gap so that we are able to please him.  That is the God who is at work in us this very moment.  Father, thank You for making us able to obey and please You as You require.