Philippians 2:12 - "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,"
In my journey of seeking a healthier life, it is almost humorous that I come to a verse like Philippians 2:12 where Paul tells me to "work out". This time though, does not deal with physical exercise but deals with my salvation.
"Work out your salvation" is packed with meaning and challenge. It does not say "work FOR your salvation". The Philippians were already follower of Christ and besides, you cannot work FOR salvation. It is not earned - it is given by God's grace. This is a challenge to followers of Christ to "continue" pursuing obedience and maximum benefit and gain every ounce of value from salvation. The more you obey God the more you "work out" your salvation and realize its values and priceless benefits and joys.
The verb "work out" was also used in Paul's day for "working a mine" or "working a field" and carried the idea getting all the value from the mine or getting the greatest harvest possible. The value of salvation goes far beyond just being saved from eternal death. One theologian said that at the moment of salvation, there are 33 things, benefits, or values we instantly gain that are impossible without salvation.
The challenge for me is to "work out" and continually seek to know more and understand more these values and benefits. The more I obey God, the more I realize the benefits of salvation which then result in my attitude and lifestyle being one of energetic joy. This in turn creates a curiosity in those not living the joy and value of salvation as they watch and observe how I live - leading them to either a higher level of joy in their salvation or to turning to Jesus for salvation. You cannot not live out energetic joy when you learn more and more the value and benefits of salvation.
The Message translates this "Keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God." It's actually pretty simple...I want to be more like Jesus and be a better influence and witness for Him leading others to a deeper, fresher, newer relationship with Him (starting with salvation). That happens as I live out my salvation with energetic joy and life. This happens as I "work out" my own salvation.