by Jeff Dominguez
Chapter 02 (Part 2) – SHINE BRIGHT LIKE THE STARS!!
In this session, we will continue our study on the second half of Philippians chapter 02. In this section, Paul summarized the previous lessons that he taught and explained how it affects not only them but also the people around them.
I. THE 3 WORKS (vv12-13)
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but 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 work for His good pleasure.”
In this simple passage, Paul summarized the essence of the Christian life. If we will observe, there are 3 “WORKS” in this short passage: WORK OUT, WORKS IN, and WORK FOR.
First, Paul’s main message is that the Philippians should “work out their salvation.” This verse is often misinterpreted as suggesting works-based salvation. With just proper grammar and semantic analysis, it is clear that Paul is not teaching us to “work for” our salvation; he is teaching us to work it out. In other words, he wants us to live it out. The best way to understand this command is by learning first the functional reason why God saved us. And according to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, GOD SAVED US TO SERVE HIM BY DOING GOOD WORKS.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus FOR GOOD WORKS, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
– Ephesians 2:10
Therefore, to work out our salvation means to live out the purpose of why God saved us. And immediately after this, Paul added that when we work out our salvation, we do it not through our strength, but by God’s. As Paul said, “it is God who WORKS IN you…” This brings us back to our previous message about humility. Whenever we feel proud of our achievements in ministry, we must remember that it was God who worked in us to accomplish that. This brings us to the purpose of it all: “…to will and to WORK FOR His good pleasure.” All of this sums up to the pleasure and glory of God.
II. SHINE AS LIGHTS IN THIS WORLD (vv14-18)
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.”
While the focus of the previous passage is about working out our salvation through serving God, this time, it is about our character and behavior as Christians. As Paul taught, we are to be mindful of our attitudes and be wary of negative traits like grumbling and disputing. The overall point is to become “blameless and innocent.” As Christians, our character and lifestyle should be distinct and set apart from this world. And by doing so, according to Paul, we will shine like bright lights in this dark world. Paul echoed Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:14-16 about us becoming the light of this world.
This metaphor supports the previous message about working out our salvation. But this time, Paul emphasizes the magnitude of the effect of even the simplest acts of service. In a dark room, even a small light can make so much difference. No matter how small it is, a light attracts attention and hope. In the same way, Christians who serve God even in the humblest of ways function like lights in this dark and fallen world. Therefore, this is an encouragement for us to continue serving God no matter how big or small our role in the body of Christ is.
III. THE EXAMPLES OF TIMOTHY AND EPAPHRODITUS (vv19-30)
“I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.
I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.”
In this closing section, Paul gave us information about Timothy and Epaphroditus, particularly regarding their character. Without digging too much into the details, the point of this section is simply to provide good examples of what Paul is teaching. As we can read from Paul’s description, Timothy and Epaphroditus are good examples who serve God and have displayed Christlike character. According to Paul, Timothy was a sincere man who, despite his young age, had already helped Paul in ministry. Epaphroditus on the other hand was the one who delivered the goods sent by the Philippians to Paul as well as the one who delivered this letter back to them. But what’s even more amazing is that Epaphroditus was actually ill to the point of death. But despite that, he continued to serve God. Truly, Timothy and Epaphroditus are amazing examples of Christians who work out their salvation and shine like bright lights to this world.
As we close, may we be reminded to work out our salvation and be the light to this dark world. God did not save us just for us to remain idle or to serve ourselves. God saved us for His glory and purposes. And if we think about it, there’s no greater honor than to serve the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
God Bless! 🙂