Thursday after Populus Sion, The Second Sunday in Advent
Scripture: Philippians 2:12-18 (NKJV)
2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. 17 Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.
It is the Holy Spirit who works faith and love in us. And after we have been brought to faith in Christ God calls on His children to cooperate intentionally with His Spirit that we may grow in love. He admonishes us to use the Means of Grace by which He works, to walk according to God’s commandments, to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
The Lutheran Confessions highlight the comfort of this phrase. “To all godly Christians who feel and experience in their hearts a small spark or longing for divine grace and eternal salvation this precious passage is very comforting; for they know that God has kindled in their hearts this beginning of true godliness, and that He will further strengthen and help them in their great weakness to persevere in true faith unto the end” (Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article II).
In today’s reading God commands us to do “all things without complaining and disputing.” That runs contrary to our flesh, which wants to grumble as soon as it experiences the slightest opposition. But we have God’s promise to work in us and to strengthen us, so that we may learn to walk with His Spirit and to rejoice in His love instead of complaining.
We pray: Grant to us, Lord, the Spirit to think and do always such things as are right, that we, who cannot do anything that is good without You, may by You be enabled to live according to Your will; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.