Somewhat skeptical of his son’s new found determination to become Charles Atlas, the father nevertheless followed the teenager over to the weight-lifting department, admiring a set of weights.
“Please, Dad,” pleaded the boy, “I promise I’ll use ’em every day.”
“I don’t know, Michael. It’s really a commitment on your part,” the father pointed out.
“Please, Dad?” the boy continued.
“They’re not cheap either,” the father came back.
“I’ll use ’em Dad, I promise. You’ll see.”
Finally won over, the father paid for the equipment and headed for the door.
From the corner of the store he heard his son yelp, “What! You mean I have to carry them to the car?” *
That kid sounds just like me! In fact, some time ago, I broke up with my gym. We were just not working out. **
I don’t naturally “take” to exercise, but I know it’s good for me, so I persevere to find time for short spurts.
I take short walks, or exercise in a jacuzzi, or spend time (only 15 minutes) on a recumbent bike, or vacuum my house. For me, that’s manageable and it works.
The truth is, I don’t naturally “take” to spiritual exercise either. But there’s no question it’s good for me.
There was a time I was content to sit back as a Christian and not “work out” the salvation (Philippians 2:12) the Lord was “working in.”
“It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
I was good at accepting the first part—allowing God to do His sanctifying work in me—but the second part was tough! I really didn’t have the desire for spiritual disciplines, and frankly, I didn’t think too much about doing things for God’s “good pleasure.”
In Philippians 2:12, Paul told the Philippian Church, “Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but even more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”
What was Paul saying?
We’re to keep on doing what we did at the beginning, when we first trusted Christ. We’re to fear God (reverence Him) and know the Lord is evaluating our behavior.
There are some who say we’re not to work at all at becoming more Christ-like, but that’s not what scripture teaches. It might be natural for us to sin, but on the other hand, a child of God is called to respond to grace.
Remember what it was like when you first met the Lord? Remember the fire in your heart to show the Lord how much you loved Him because of His great sacrifice for you?
- You couldn’t pray enough.
- You couldn’t read the Bible enough.
- Your heart poured out praise and worship.
- You couldn’t wait to obey God.
Until you got busy with other things… distracted by lesser affections. And then, the prayer, Bible study, worshipful gratitude and responsive obedience just seemed like too much work!
But Paul was saying, “redouble your efforts!”
“Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God,” it says in The Message. “That energy is God’s energy, and energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.”
God rescues us, and then He works in us and gives us the energy to work at what will please Him!
Verses 14-16 give us a glimpse of what can happen if we follow God and work for Him. We will shine out like beacon lights in a dark and corrupt world! (v. 15) We will model the life-changing power of the Word of Life.
In verse 16, Paul essentially told the believers, “You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.”
If I “redouble my efforts” to practice the spiritual disciplines, it’s going to be obvious to the world, and it’s going to bless others who have poured their time and energy into helping me grow too!
Our salvation is not of works, but that doesn’t mean we get lazy in pursuing the Lord once we know Him. As my Grandpa Parks used to day, “Don’t sit around like a bump on a pickle.”
Some might need the admonition, “Take time to rest,” but others need a “Get busy!”
In fact, Redouble Your Efforts!
* from Cybersalt Digest, Issue #3980, 10-30-13
** OK, I borrowed that from Cybersalt Digest, Issue #3981, 10-31-13