“For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)
I just returned home from visiting my daughter in college. The college she attends has a standard that they live by – and seek to impart to every one of their students. The college is known as “Hard Work U.”
I have mixed feelings about this. Certainly, the value of work is something that has become a bit of a lost standard. (Especially among a generation where employers are constantly complaining about the work ethic of today’s young people). A good work ethic is not a bad thing.
But often times, the emphasis upon hard work can mislead us. We can take that hard work ethic into our relationship with God and find that we are constantly trying to “up our performance levels” so we can earn His favor and blessings. We can end up taking “God helps those who help themselves” to a whole new level of effort… in our attempts to gain God’s attention.
Maybe the most difficult lesson for any of us Christ-followers is this: Relationship with God is not based upon what we DO… it is based upon what HE has done. The work to gain God’s approval was done for us, by our Lord Jesus. There is nothing left for us to do to win God’s heart, or to earn His favor, or to merit His blessings. Jesus’ work is a finished work. There is no work left to be added to His. All we can do is trust in what His work has done.
But there is a wonderful second part to all of Jesus’ work on our behalf. God did all that He did… so that He can do His work through us. Jesus’ work was to enable us to be proper vessels for Him to work. From the moment we receive what Jesus has done for us, our whole relationship with God changes.
We are NOT trying to work FOR God. Upon receiving Jesus, we are now called to work WITH God. Because of Jesus, He does not see us not as His servants (or His employees) trying to earn a divine “paycheck” with all the work we do for Him. We are now His partners. We are invited to come and know Him Personally – to know His heart, His vision, His purposes, His passions – and to take what we know of Him out into the world… as His representatives. We take His work out with us – meeting the needs of all we meet, with the power and love of His grace.
The best part is that God has already fully equipped us to BE His representatives (2Peter 1:3-4) – and He goes with us wherever we go (through the indwelling Holy Spirit). What all this means is that the work we do now is God’s work, initiated by God, empowered by God, equipped by God and implemented by God… through us!
That IS the apostle’s point in our verse today. God is always working – and He is now working in, and through, us who now love Him because of Jesus’ work done for us.
Prayer Focus: God, fill me with Your love… and grant me to see the opportunities to love as You have loved me.