No matter where we are in our lives, no matter what lessons we’ve learned, no matter how faithful to God we’ve been, 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.
“[Be] 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, and that a good work was underway among the Philippians. If Paul were to come to us today, hopefully he would see the same work happening in us. We can use Paul’s evaluation of the Philippians’ situation to do a spiritual checkup of our own.
First, we know that 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 Christ, God is automatically at work, changing us from the inside out by the power of His Holy Spirit, which dwells within us.
Second, we know that God is at work 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 single greatest evidence of God at work. Paul prayed that the Philippians’ love “may abound more.” This tells us that abounding love was already present (God had begun a good work) and that God would work to produce even more (God was carrying on this work).
Paul’s prayer also makes clear that the Philippians had to open themselves to the work God was doing. God can do nothing in us unless we allow God access to our 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 donein us, and the work being done through us. In God’s masterful way, the work He does in us always results in work He does through us. Let’s examine some of the work 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 Christ’s cause 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. Increased humility forces out pride, and keeps 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. The Holy Spirit dwelling within us becomes a brightly shining light that reveals God’s grace and truth to the darkened world around us.
Indiscretion—or lack of knowledge and discernment—dims this light. Fear of the world in the face of opposition dims this light. So does pride. With our lights dimmed, we blend into the rest of the world and we have no real testimony to offer. But when these dark filters get cleared away, we shine like the stars!
We shine in our boldness, preaching the Gospel without reservation (Philippians 1:27).
We shine in selflessness, considering the needs of others before our own (Philippians 2:3-4).
We shine in abounding love (Philippians 1:9).
We know God will carry on and complete His work because His work is done for His good purpose(Philippians 2:13). God’s good purpose is eternal and never changes. His good purpose is that all will 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 people 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. 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 inyou, 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 has begun a good work in you.
© 2009, 2011 Dan Buckhout