God calls us today (what Paul wrote to the Philippian believers) to WORK out our own salvation in a public way where others at home, church, work and play will see results of our gift of salvation. At the point of our salvation, God worked IN us regeneration, new life, cleansing, etc. (1:6). That work was in the personal privacy of our sinful hearts, but God expects us to then be changed also in a revealing way to those around us. "Work out" involves applying truths and resources that came to us with the gift of salvation. Math problems in school are a good illustration because we had to work out the problem, using the logical, mathematical concepts. Our goal was to completely solve the problem with the correct answer. What are some of the life problems to be worked out with God's truths and resources? Fear of man keeps me private about my faith. Fear of failure keeps me serving or taking the first step of obedience. Getting saved just to get to heaven one day causes me to waste God's gift of time here, and to miss His purposes for saving me in the first place. So, God has done private works in millions of hearts, but that work has been experienced, revealed, and made obvious to millions who follow Christ in trusting repentance. Would you like some motivation to let your salvation work out be obvious and a blessing to others? God solved your biggest problem, and it was not a math problem.
Notice also that God calls us to work OUT our own salvation by plunging or plowing deep down into salvation's deep soil or mine shaft. Dig deep and turn that spiritual soil so that His minerals and nutrients will "bring forth in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (2:13). His harvest in and through us includes changing my desires. Trust in the LORD, and He will give you the new desires ("to will") of your heart (Psalm 37:1-5). His harvest also includes your ability "to do" which means He gives you the energy to obey and please Him. Our own responsibility to dig is also pictured by a mining shaft deep into the earth below the surface. We are called to dig deeply into salvation's spiritual mine shaft to find and carry out to the surface all of God's resources, jewels, coal, fuel, and precious metals. We are wrong and worthless miners to dig down in dark places and times, take a "selfie" with the gold and other miners, and text it back to friends in the mining town. Carry out those valuable resources back up to the light of day to bless others.
Finally, I see God calling us to work out our own salvation in order to carry out our OWN individual purpose on earth until the day we see Christ. For example, Jesus was sent to earth to carry out God's purpose for His earthly journey completely (2:5-11). He is our pattern for humble service, but we were not sent here by God to be Jesus (2:7-8). Jesus is the all-powerful God, but we are not God (2:6) even though we are called to be godly in Christ Jesus. He is worthy of our praise both now and forever because He obeyed God's role for Him here all the way to death on the cross. We are called to obey, "even now much more in (Paul's) absence," but we have not been sent to earth to be the Savior. That was only Jesus' purpose. What is yours? Work out your own. Notice the other great examples of Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus, who worked out their own salvation here until God called them home. Yes, there is only ONE way to heaven, one gospel, one Christ who saves. Yet, God gives each of us unique gifts, opportunities, circumstances, times, and people to reach. Do you need a little motivation to carry out His specific purpose for saving you? It pleases God (2:13).
As you read commands and examples in 2:1-30, try to summarize what this working out will look like by filling in the following:
1. Be C_________________ in this sad world.
2. Be Straight in this C_____________ world.
3. Be L_________________ in this dark world.
4. Be selfless in this S_______________world.
5. Be humble in this P_______________ world.
6. Be harmonious in this D___________ world.
7. Be helpful in this apathetic world.