Philippians 2:12, 13
Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
Paul pleaded with the church people in Philippi to keep on doing those good things that he had taught them to do. He knew it was important for them to seek God first and above all else. He knew from his own experience just how earnestly we must strive for the right. Still, he adds the wonderful truth and promise that God works inside us to give us the desire and the ability, the strength and power to do what He wants us to do.
How freeing and liberating it is to me to know that I can depend on God to give me everything I need so that I can keep stepping out and forward in obedience. Sometimes, I do not even desire what is right, but I can pray that God will step in and create that desire for doing what is right in my heart. The core of who I am and what I want to do can improve, and I really can become what I was always meant to be.
I do not have any limitations on abilities to keep growing in God and His plan for my life. As I keep on going in faith that God will lift me up, I am enabled by Him to do those things that make His heart glad. Meanwhile, I can know that what He wants is all for my good because that is what gives Him joy, my progress and the love I return to Him. No life is better than living it daily in submission to the miraculous saving power of God to transform me, to change what I do and to ennoble my motives for living and doing.
Eve had an entire lifetime of more than 900 years in which to choose God’s power working in her to overcome where she had failed in the Garden of Eden. We do not know how she lived her life other than the fact that she was a mother, having many children and caring for them every day. Maybe as she saw the grace she wanted to give to her children, she understood more of the love and grace of God for herself. Certainly, she had many years in which to grow wise and mentor those generations that came after her.
Mary, we are told, thought about things that happened and took things as they came to her. (See Luke 2:19.) She was with the believers after Jesus died, and so she learned just what the plan of salvation was really all about. I think there were scriptures in Mary’s home because Jesus knew so much of them when He was only 12 years old. Still, she did not fully understand Jesus’ mission on earth until after the resurrection.
The same is true today; I grow through the years of studying the Bible. I do not have all the answers at the beginning of my life, and I will keep learning throughout all eternity. Still, I am glad I have access to the Bible and can learn and grow. God really is at work in me.
I can look at others I know that are older and younger than I and know that we all grow at our own pace as God is working in us. My friend Esther may be older than me and studying her Bible every day, but she may always talk to me about how she is worried and afraid for herself and her children. She may have been a believer much longer than I, and she still has daily doubts with which to struggle.
Then, Meg has only been a believer a short time. I know that she is studying her Bible, but she tells me that she loves to watch these shows on TV that I know promote immorality. I can pray for my friends, and I can ask them to pray for me. I hope that they do pray for me as they see in me those areas where I am far from perfect. We can encourage each other to keep striving for the right without a condemning spirit because we know how God is working in our own lives.
Dear Loving and Patient Father God—
Thank Your mercy on me as I grow. Thank you for the stories in the Bible about how You helped people grow in you throughout their lives. I can have hope from their stories and the promises in Philippians 2:12, 13 that I can show evidence of what You are doing in my life. You are helping me to want to do Your will and giving me the power to do Your will for my life. Then, I can pray for others when they share their lives and struggles with me. Please teach me how I can share the hope, love and mercy that I receive from You!! Thank You that this life is possible because of Jesus! Amen.