No matter where we are in our lives, no matter what lessons we’ve learned, no matter how faithful we’ve been to God, one thing shows up in every honest self-assessment – we’re not perfect; God still has work left to do in us. But progress in this work is not automatic. In order for the work to continue, we’ve got to let God in to do it.
“…being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 1:6 (NIV)
When Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians, he was confident that God was in the middle of something big. A good work was underway. If Paul were to come to us today we would hope that he would see the same work happening in us. Let’s ask a few questions and use Paul’s evaluation of the Philippian situation to do a spiritual checkup of our own.
How do we know God is at work?
Because we share in God’s grace (Philippians 1:7) If we have secured eternal life by God’s grace through faith in Jesus, God is automatically at work, changing us from the inside out by the power of His indwelt Holy Spirit. (If you’re not sure about this part in your own life click here to read “For God So Loves You.”)
Because our love abounds (Philippians 1:9) Abounding love, love that spills out of Spirit-filled hearts onto anyone and everyone around us is the greatest evidence of God at work. Paul prayed that the Philippians’ love “may abound more.” This tells us that abounding love was present (God had begun a good work) and that God would work to produce even more (God was continuing this work). Paul’s prayer also makes clear that the Philippians have to open themselves to the work God is doing. It works like this—car repairmen asked to repair a rough-running engine can do nothing without being allowed to work on anything inside the car itself. Likewise, God can do nothing in us unless we allow God access to the internal parts that need the work.
What is the work that God has started?
First, it is important to understand that there are two types of work being done – the work being done in us and the work being done through us. In God’s masterful way, work He does in us always results in work He does through us. Let’s go through some of the work done in us Paul mentioned.
Increasing knowledge and discernment (Philippians 1:9)
The more we know the truth, the more we will be able to figure out, from all the options available to us, which ones are God-initiated and which ones aren’t.
Reducing fear when others oppose us (Philippians 1:28)
The more we remember that the cause of Christ is sure, the more peace and security we experience when we face opposition.
Increasing humility (Philippians 2:3)
Humility is the key to following God. Increasing humility forces out pride, keeping us from supplanting God’s plans with our own.
The work God does in us accomplishes one central thing. It makes us more like Jesus (Philippians 2:5-10). When we become like Jesus, we become brightly shining lights (Philippians 2:15). This is where the work done in us becomes the work done through us. Here’s how it works. The Holy Spirit that dwells in the hearts of believers is a brightly shining light that reveals God’s grace and truth to the darkened world around us. The dark filter of indiscretion (lack of knowledge and discernment) dims this light. The dark filter of fear in the face of opposition dims this light. The dark filter of pride dims this light. With light that is dim, we look like everyone else in the world and have no real testimony to offer. When these filters get cleared away, we shine like stars!
Shining in our boldness; preaching the Gospel without reservation (Philippians 1:27).
Shining in selflessness; considering the needs of others before our own (Philippians 2:3-4).
Shining in abounding love (Philippians 1:9).
How do we know God will carry on and complete His work?
Because His work is done for His good purpose (Philippians 2:13). God has only eternal purposes that last forever and are never changing. His good purpose is that all would come to know Him and enter into eternal life in His Kingdom. He will continue to work to this good purpose until Christ returns to rule over the New Heaven and the New Earth.
Are there those around you who do not know Him? Then there is still bright shining work to do. Has Jesus come to rule over the New Heaven and the New Earth? (At this writing the answer is no.) Then there is still bright shining work to do. God’s faithfulness is great (Lamentations 3:22-23). He will be faithful to complete this work in us and through us if we will let Him. That’s the truth.
You can be confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will continue that work in you so that He may do ever more good work through you that you may become a bright shining light for His good purpose.
That’s the YouTruth – He Who Began A Good Work In You.