Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. –Philippians 2:12–13
Why did Paul make use of the emotional expression like fear and trembling? In other words, we can ask why working out our salvation must make us fearful and trembled. The question may be answered when we meet Jesus Christ. We can imagine the Lord’s miracle shown for Simon (Luke 5:2-11). When Simon caught tremendously many fishes enough for the ship to be sunk, he was fearful rather than joyful. He confessed his sinful life in the front of Lord. This episode shows us that salvation starts with repentance and with realizing “Jesus Christ, the son of God is with us.” When we forget God in us, we commit sins without fear. When we vividly realize God in us, we become fearful about God. However, the fear and trembling is not negative, but positive for our progress toward salvation since it is a sign that we are connected with God’s work.
Jon Bloom said in his article, “God-given faith is demonstrated by their God-dependent works. Faith works through love.” Indeed, the salvation is not just one-time event of regeneration but also ceaseless process during our lives. Our faith should be naturally shown in our lives as a testimony. To achieve it, we should ceaselessly work out salvation with fear and trembling as Paul said.
Two years ago, I read Pilgrim Progress, a novel written by John Bunyan. It described how human beings suffer from a variety of troubles in their lives metaphorically but realistically. I was impressed that the hero called ‘Christian’ had a heavy burden on his back, and he started to make a trip toward a light to be perfectly saved. However, his travel was not easy since he had been harassed by evils such as temptation, lie, desire, and so forth. Nevertheless, he did not get out of his own way toward salvation, and he could arrive at the door of the Heaven.
As shown in this story, we should not avoid any trouble which approaches to us in our lives, but we should exert ourselves to overcome all troubles. However, it does not mean that we should strive hard to get rid of all troubles; it is because we cannot obtain perfect victories against evils. As we frequently fight with evils, they may tease us more severely. Instead, we can gradually walk toward the light – the door of the Heaven with keeping our hope and destination; even if we fall over many obstacles which obstruct our way, and even if we may go a longway round, we will finally arrive at the Heaven if we never give up ourselves. For instance, we sometimes tend to worry about trivial problems, and as a result we lose our original purpose. On the other hand, you can observe how water moves down from the top of mountains, and how they finally make spacious sea. Water never destroy any stone or obstacles which interrupt its way, and instead it softly wraps these obstacles and softly goes over them without any serious collision. It never stop flowing toward its dream – the sea. Our lives should also resemble characteristics of water.
Now, this is a good time for us to change our attitude. Let us locate the vivid imagination of the Heaven in the center of our mind, and always keep the virtual image there. If so, we will never lose our way although any obstacles interrupt us.
Our lives are the sequence of mistakes. Everyone wants to give and take love with friends, but unfortunately we make a lot of mistakes throughout our lives. When we make a mistake or experience failure, what we need is not self-discouragement but self-confidence. If we repent our faults and make them as a good chance to improve ourselves, these faults would not be harmful but profitable for both you and your friend.
For instance, we sometimes used to be rude to our best friends, which finally breaks friendship with them by incurring their grudge. It would be a really serious fault in our lives. What will you do in this case? You may suffer from the conscience on your serious guilty, or may continue to justify your bad behaviour. However, such an attitude never solve this situation. The first step is to pray to the God with sincere repentance. Then stand up promptly and go to your friend to make a sincere apology to him. It is very simple but not easy because it requires your modesty and strong confidence.
Nevertheless, your friend might not forgive you for a long time. In that case, never hurry up to be reconciled with him, and never give up your gesture for peace with him even though he never look up your face. You should be patient. At any time, he will finally return back to you if you do not give up to recover your friendship.
The brief summary of the chapter 9 and 10 of the Book of Genesis is as follows. When Noah was drunken and naked, Ham, a son of Noah, did not take care of his father; on the other hand, Shem and Japheth, other sons of Noah, nursed his father back to the health.
Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside.But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father’s nakedness.When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him,he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.”He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem.May God extend the territory of Japheth ; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave.” (Genesis 9:20-27)
I was surprised at Noah’s warning such that Ham’s descendants will become misery while Shem’s and Japheth’s descendants will prosper. It is because, even though Ham’s attitude for his father was not serious in my view, it made big difference with Shem and Japheth. It shows that my trivial behaviours can be a seed to make big differences in the future. Everyone die, but the death does not mean the end of life; my traces in life will be transmitted to the next generation, and will give significant influences to their lives – especially to my son and daughter’s life.
I realized that I should not be indolent in my life, which means that I always have to be aware of the truth and God’s words. Today is not just today. Today will make a small difference in tomorrow, and the consecutive accumulation of Today will finally make a big difference not only in my life but also in the next generation.