Summary: Sometimes we need a lesson in Christian conduct. Paul knows that when he writes the Philippians. He wants to give them guidance in their Christian conduct. That is what Paul does and he tells them about living the Christian life.
There was a family who, as many times happens, had trouble getting along with their neighbors. They argued back and forth and finally one of the neighbors was about to go on vacation. They hoped that this might reduce the tension between the two.
After one family left on vacation the one still at home noticed that their dog had gone from their fence into the neighbor’s fenced yard. Not only had the dog gone into the neighbor’s fence, but by the time they saw the dog it had the neighbor’s pet rabbit in its mouth and was shaking it.
When they finally got their dog back into its pen they discovered the neighbors pet rabbit was dead. So this incident would not cause more tension they decided to clean the rabbit up, give it a bath, dry it off with a hair dryer, comb it and put it back into the rabbit cage. They thought that this would cover up any more problems that could arise between the two families.
When the other family retuned from vacation they went into their back yard. There was screaming coming from the neighbors when they went to their back yard where the rabbit cage was. They ran to the back yard and asked the neighbors, “What is wrong? Did your rabbit die?”
The neighbors told them that before they left on vacation the rabbit died and they buried it in the garden. Now the rabbit is back in the rabbit cage again.
Sometimes we need a lesson in Christian conduct. Paul knows that when he writes the Philippians. He wants to give them guidance in their Christian conduct. That is what Paul does and he tells them about living the Christian life. Paul has just finished presenting about the example of Christ. How Jesus went from being clothed in all the Majesty of God then stooping down, taking on humanity, Christ humbled himself in obedience, even obedience to the point of death on a cross.
The passage on the obedience of Christ, the great example of Christ is connected to this passage that we are looking at here. Read Philippians 2:12-18
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold outc the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
We see in Vs. 2 the word therefore. This whole passage is connected to the example of Christ. Paul is saying to the Philippians, Jesus Christ is God and he humbled himself as no one ever has. He became obedient and demonstrated the greatest example of humility. That word therefore means, now live under that Lordship of Christ who was exalted. Paul gives this kind of command.
Before we think that Paul has brought a harsh command we need to look at the way Paul brought this command. He says, “My dear friends.” So here is Paul giving this example of Christ and then, in a manner of love, uses Christ’s example to tell the Philippian Christians that they need to be living under the Lordship of Christ. They need to have the right Christian Conduct in their life. Paul is motivating them inn love, to a deeper level of obedience.
Paul says to them, Vs 12, You have always obeyed. Paul refers to their obedience in the past. Paul knew well of their past obedience. He had ministered in their midst and they had taken care of him. He had seen them take their stand for Christ. So Paul reminds them of that in the past they had been obedient and faithful to Jesus.
Then we come to a phrase in Scripture that might startle some of us. Paul says, “Work out your salvation.” We ask ourselves, work out our salvation? Is this the same Paul who wrote in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God? He has talked about salvation by grace all this time and now Paul says work out your salvation?