So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work, for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:12-13, NASB).
My study of Philippians has been in progress for some time now, and having reached chapter 2:12-13, I have found some ideas that may be of interest to SI readers.
The general lack of fear and trembling
Many of the problems in our Lord’s church arise from a lack of proper fear and trembling when people work out their salvation (by which I mean they are attempting to make right decisions in light of their understanding of God and His purposes).
Despite this plea of Paul, many people overlook the second half of the phrase, while acknowledging the first. I suspect that most of the people filling the churches in America, if asked whether they are working out their salvation, would affirm that they feel they are on the right path, moving forward spiritually, in tune with God, doing what they feel is right, etc. If asked, however, about daily fear and trembling before God, honesty would compel most to admit that they have little or none.
Christians make decisions of all sorts every day about music, activities, food and drink, clothing, manner of speech, attitude, deportment, ministry, schooling, entertainment, destinations, goals, and many other things. How many of those decisions really reflect proper fear and trembling before God? Do people show fear of abusing God’s grace and patience in American church business meetings? How many decisions are made with selfish, pragmatic or economic motives? Though failure to fear God is associated with wicked persons (Rom. 3:18, Ps. 36, etc.) the church is rife with people who make countless decisions with no fear of God before their eyes.