Summary: The word ‘work’ taken from verse 6 comes from the Greek word ergon, which literally means ‘to produce an accomplished product by hand’. We
Be Filled with the Fruits of Righteousness
3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy,
5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,
6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment
10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,
11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Let us take confidence in the fact that our calling goes far beyond the foot of the cross. Our calling does not end at the cross, but begins at the cross. It should inspire us that God takes care to develop us and shape our character into His image. Our salvation is not the completed work of God but the beginning of what God seeks to do in our lives. The word ‘work’ taken from verse 6 comes from the Greek word ergon, which literally means ‘to produce an accomplished product by hand’ and ‘complete’ or ‘epiteleo’ means to complete to perfection. Paul is telling us to be confident in our fellowship in the gospel knowing that your relationship with God means that God works in you with individual, careful attention so that He can bring you into heaven as an accomplished treasure fashioned by His own hand. You are an individual treasure with such immense value that the Bible says that the entire world does not compare to the value of your soul. The shaping of your salvation is compared to the refining of precious metals such as gold and silver. With impurities in the metal, the value is stripped. Each refining only increases the value. The only way you can be incomplete when you stand before God on the ‘Day of the Lord’ is by ignoring His call for you to follow.
So what is our role in the process of refining? We must actively submit to God. When we resist and go our own ways, God does not shape us. God has given us a free will so that we must choose to love God and choose to love the things of God or choose our own ways. He could force us into a mold, but then we would be no different than the rest of creation. God has clearly shown His love toward us by paying the debt of our sins by His blood on the cross. If we have truly trusted Him with our sins, we shouldn’t have trouble trusting Him with our lives. There are 3 areas we must act upon as revealed in this passage; love His truth, approve what is excellent, and judge sincerely so we may be without offense. If you do these things, you have the promise that Jesus will fill you with the fruits of His righteousness.
1. Love His truth. Verse 9 says, "And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment". Love comes from the word agape, which can be translated as unconditional love. There are two other Greek words that we translate into the word love. There is eros, which refers to passion and philia, which means warm affection or friendship. It is easy for us to understand how to love based on passion or warm friendship, but because emotions are not the trigger, agape must be a part of our willful choice. Only man, created in God’s image has the ability to exercise agape love. The rest of creation loves as a response to receiving and cannot love without conditions. Agape is a love based on choice, not feelings. We are instructed to love/agape knowledge and all discernment. We are to love knowledge based on truth, not based on feelings. We are instructed to base discernment on truth, not on what makes me feel good or on what stirs my emotions. I am to love the things of God by understanding with or without the benefit of feelings. Feelings are unstable. Anything in life that is rooted in feelings is on unstable ground. Temptation to sin arises from feelings. If it didn’t feel good, I would not be tempted to do it. Agape is choosing to love God and love His commandments not based on feelings but based on truth as revealed by His word. All other forms of love are based on emotions but only agape stands like a rock – refusing to change with the climate around it. Agape can stir up our emotions but does not depend on emotions. Eros and philia are based on what we can get. Agape does not seek its own, but seeks to be self-giving.