The power at work within
Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him... But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy. Philippians 2:12-13; 17-18
Paul earlier exhorted Christians in Philippi to be “like-minded” and to look “to the interests of others” (see Philippians 2:2–4). From the text, Paul explained that they had the power to do what God has called them to do because they were in Christ Jesus and He is at work in them. “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13). They are to be and to act in ways consistent with their motives as formed in, and demonstrated by, Jesus Christ. They are to do this good work whether Paul is absent or present; “you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important” (Philippians 2:12). Another admonition from Paul is for Christians to “do everything without complaining or arguing” (Philippians 2:14). The demonstration of faithful service when done with joy becomes “an offering to God.” Though at times our good deeds are not recognized or unappreciated, we should not stop for they are things done for the glory of God. Instead, let us continue to rejoice and to share such joy with other believers. The book of Philippians as has been noted is the epistle of joy. The burdens that they face as followers of Christ and the uncertainty of Paul’s future do not prevent the Philippians from the experience of a real joy or from sharing that joy with Paul and other believers. Once again, the word of God affirms that real joy is not dependent upon circumstances. Real joy is dependent upon the One working within the life of the believer. To know that Christ’s presence through the Holy Spirit lives within provides an assurance that we can rejoice no matter what circumstances we are in.