Working Out, Working In

Post By Chris Hartenstein
"...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
        With the outbreak of COVID-19, our normal ways of living in comfort, convenience, and abundant provision and freedom have been challenged. Parts of the world are in "survival mode," and we are all just trying to stay safe and maintain a new sort of normalcy during this time. With all this change, what is the effect on our relationship with our heavenly Father, our family, and the world? As sons and daughters of an amazingly good and powerful Dad, we can have faith and a "code" that can remain unshaken - even amidst a pandemic. Let's breakdown Philippians 2:12-13.

        First, let's look at the word salvation. The original Greek word Paul uses is triple tense, meaning it denotes past, present, and future. He is saying - you have been saved, you are saved, and you are being saved. "We have been saved," because two thousand plus years ago, Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection made it possible for our salvation. "We are saved" when we chose to "believe and receive" what Jesus did on the cross (John 1). We are sons and daughters at the moment of our redemption. Remember, though, Jesus came for more than just redemption; He came to "heal the brokenhearted, set the captives free, and bring sight to the blind" (Luke 4). "We are being saved" daily as there are things within us still changing, growing, healing, and being made "whole and holy" (Eph. 1) What Paul is making clear is that the complete work of salvation is a process. One that will not be complete until Jesus' return (Phil. 1:6). I think he is saying "settle in" for a life of change, which is meant to make us "mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1). And really, why not? Our Heavenly Dad loves us right where we are, but He loves us way too much to leave us there. He will continue to work to restore us to who we were created to be, and more often than not, restoration occurs during the hard seasons of life.  

        Secondly, Paul uses the word "work" three times in these verses. He is NOT saying that we work for our salvation. What Paul wants us to grasp is this: The Trinity does the perfect work in us, but we have a part to play.  We have to "work out" things in our lives so that the Trinity can "work in" the restoration we so desperately need. If we are a five gallon bucket filled to the rim, there is no room for anything new to be poured in. Something has to go. So he is saying we have to "work out" - release things we are holding onto, such as anger, unforgiveness, past pain, sin, betrayal, lies, agreements, grudges, etc. All of these need to be poured out to make room for something NEW. Only then will we have the ability to receive the goodness of our Heavenly Dad. The Trinity then "works in" healing, freedom, truth, goodness, joy, peace, and more. Paul uses the word "work" because that is what it is! This process is not going to be easy. It is going to take effort, perseverance, time, vision, prayer, blood, sweat, and tears (James 1). Yes, it is hard, but it is also so very good! What a great truth to hold tight too!

        For me, in these hard times, I tend to "go at it alone." I carry everyone's burdens, the financial strain, my family's struggle, the struggle of our small business and ministry. Everything is on me and I must move it ahead. It eventually crushes me. Releasing the burden of "self-sufficiency and independence" and receiving "peace, provision and guidance" from my Dad as His beloved son is so LIFE-GIVING for my heart. When I do that I am a better son, man and leader - I am living what I was created to be. That is Him "working into me" His restoration. I am operating at a whole different level, one that is supernaturally driven.    

         During trying times, our Dad uses events, struggles, and even this pandemic to restore us to the perfect image-bearers He created us to be. So, we gotta stay the course, and we have to ask ourselves: what are you "working in" (receive) my life, and what do I need to "work out" (release) so that I can receive it? Don't miss the amazing good He has for you during these hard times!   

How do we trust in this truth and experience life transformation?

What do I hold onto that keeps me from moving forward in my journey? Why am I holding onto it?

What do I need to release (work out) of my life? What has been the results of not releasing?

What do I need to receive (work in) from my Heavenly Dad? What will result from receiving?

What step can I take right now to work out and allow myself to be worked in?
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