SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Paul starts today’s chapter by encouraging his readers to think like Jesus, who came to earth to serve people and give Himself for them. This means that we should be humble, consider others as more important than yourself, and always try to meet their needs.
- In verse 12 Paul tells us to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” This doesn’t contradict the Bible's teaching that we receive salvation as a free unearned gift from God (such as what Paul wrote elsewhere in Ephesians 2:8-10) but applies to another aspect of salvation.
- There are three parts to God’s salvation in the life of the Christ follower:
- God saves us from our sin by grace (called "justification")
- God works with us making us more like Jesus (called "sanctification")
- God brings us to heaven to spend the rest of eternity with him (called "glorification")
- In this verse Paul is telling us to partner with God in the work of becoming more like Jesus, and that we need to be serious about it.
- In the last section Paul talks about two men: Timothy and Epaphroditus. Paul mentions Timothy often in his letters, saying Timothy is "like a son" to him. He wrote at least two letters to Timmy and we’ll get to read them later this year. Epaphroditus isn’t mentioned anywhere else in the bible but he sure gets complimented here. Paul says to honor men like him because he almost died for the work of Christ.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Our attitude needs to be the same as Jesus. We should lower ourselves to the place of a servant, humble and complaining or arguing about nothing (verse 14). If we do that, God will lift us up, and we will shine like stars to people who don't know God (verses 15-16).
- There is coming a day when, regardless of what they believe or say now, everyone will bow to Jesus and acknowledge that He is Lord.
- Our main focus should be on God and on putting our effort into becoming more like Jesus.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- What attitudes do you need to change? Where are you not humble or self-centered? What do you tend to complain or argue about? Ask God and some trusted friends (your micro group?) to help you.
- What "strategies" have you implemented in your life to working out your salvation so you become increasingly more like Jesus? What should you?