Have you been working out lately? I’ve worked as a coach, martial artist, and trainer of athletes for decades, so when I ask those who know me this question, they immediately think I’m talking about going to the gym or some kind of physical work out.
To be sure, exercise is a good thing. Scripture tells us . . .
“Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”(1 Timothy 4:8)
But as you can see, the Bible also tells us there is a better thing: godliness. Godliness is something we are called by God to grow in.
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:12-13)
Here we see two different kinds of workouts that are part of our spiritual growth and maturity. The first “work out” is our responsibility and calling from God. The second “work out” is actually a “work in,” and this is God’s role alone. To be sure, godliness is all of God’s grace. Without God’s grace, we cease to exist. Yet God is calling us to participate in the process of growing up into Christ and maturing in our faith. The Holy Spirit not only works in us, but with us, as we work out our salvation.
Now, take note of what the passage does not say: it does not say that we are to work for our salvation. Salvation is a free gift of God in Christ Jesus. When Jesus said “It is finished,” he meant what He said! There is nothing we can add to His finished work in our salvation. In a physical workout we exercise to develop our body, not to get a body. In the very same way, in our spiritual “work out” we develop strength in our salvation; we aren’t working to get our salvation.
What a great privilege we have been given by God to participate in our spiritual growth! The words with “fear and trembling” in Philippians 2:12 simply mean we are to take our “work out” seriously. We are to work at it on a consistent basis, with great effort and intensity. Just as physical workouts strengthen the body, spiritual “work outs” strengthen the soul.
So . . . how have your “work outs” been going lately? Remember that all of this is done, not in our own strength, but in His strength. He has more than enough strength to keep us going all the way into glory.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!