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…with fear and trembling…
In our previous passage, Paul told us to “work out” our salvation, and in our passage today he tells us to do so “with fear and trembling.” Could it be because our salvation is not secure? Of course not. (Philippians 1:6: “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”) We are to take seriously our responsibility for our salvation. How? By paying careful attention to our thoughts, words and deeds. In other words, work out our salvation soberly, thoughtfully and purposefully. And even more: What’s God working in our hearts? What is He calling us to do? What adjustments in our behavior or focus is He asking us to make?
Recently, I listened to a very passionate evangelist speaking about how our greatest goal should be to share the Gospel with unreached people groups around the world. Citing numerous details and statistics, he basically said any other type of outreach would be a waste of time and resources in comparison to the benefit and yield of new believers. The same day, I heard another pastor argue the complete opposite point. He preached about sharing the Gospel with everyone in our “circle”. He described all the unsaved people we interact with each and every day. He asked, “How can you justify traveling halfway around the world to share your testimony with someone you don’t know, when you haven’t even told your butcher, next door neighbor, or co-worker? Your best mission opportunity is sitting right next to you!”
As I thought about each pastor’s perspective, I became a little confused about my personal focus and ministry. Later that evening I prayed, “Lord what would you have me do? Should I focus more of my effort in the local area, or place greater emphasis and work in the international church planting area?” The Lord spoke to my heart, He said, “Mike, what have I called you to do? I care about all people – whether they’re sick, lonely, abused, hungry, afraid, or unsaved. And I’ve placed on different people’s hearts my concern for each. Let each person reflect in their own work what I’ve made clear to them.”
Each of us is to do our part. It’s why God has given us different gifts, interests, and passions. What’s yours? Are you working it out “with fear and trembling”? In other words: Are you taking the responsibility given to you by God seriously?
What has God been working in your heart? What action or change has He been calling you to make? Have you been working out your salvation soberly, thoughtfully and purposely? With fear and trembling? How serious have you been about obeying God?
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Pocket Devotions are written by Mike Brooks. A retired businessman, he is Moderator of South Shores church, leads the Deacon Board, serves on the finance committee, and he teaches a Men's Bible study and the Men's Ministry. Mike has a passion for evangelical missions. He is the husband of Sherry; the father of Ryan, Natalie, Krissy, Rebecca, and Amanda; the father-in-law of Ariel; and the grandfather of Conner and Christian.