To Will and to Act

There seems to always be some sort of struggle in the Christian walk when it comes to trying harder. Or maybe "tension" is the right word. It is easy to find yourself striving to be better, without ever seeking the heart of God. I'm sure most of you have seen this, legalism in church or maybe a misguided, but honest pursuit of holiness. But without God, it is nothing more than striving, right? You may make some headway or develop some good habits, but is your heart changed? Are you free from sins that bind you?

The other side to that tension can also be dangerous: depending so much on freedom in grace that holiness is not really a factor or a pursuit, though it is something God is certainly concerned with. So where does the balance lie between these two pendulum swings? According to scripture, it seems that God does way more work than we do, but tonight I came across a verse that gives us a good clue of what our parameters may be in this realm.

"...continue to work our your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe." (Philippians 2:12b-15)

There is a total humility here when we realize that it is God who works in us, not only to be blameless, but even to want to be blameless. That is crazy to me. Even the will to want to be better is from God. To me this really takes a lot of pressure off of us, not so we can say, "Well, I don't want to do this right now, so I guess I don't have to;" but rather because when we don't want to do what's right, we just need to ask God to inject our lives with that desire. If it is something we are ready for, and a place God wants to take us, why wouldn't he answer such a prayer?

But then right after that, Paul gives us some very reasonable actions that we can employ in our daily lives: in everything you do, don't complain or argue. Okay, that's pretty simple. I'm kind of bad at not complaining sometimes, but that is something I can probably quit whenever the Holy Spirit nudges me. And not arguing can be easy, particularly when we respect each other and realize that the unity of the church is one of God's top priorities.

I love the simplicity of scripture sometimes. Of course it can be complicated, humans are complicated, life is complicated. But then there are verses like these, that give us something to focus on, while also reminding us that the bulk of the work is God's. And what a gracious God we serve that he would even want to make us better and freer people in the first place.