"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."
I love the fact that it is telling us to work hard because hard work pays off in anything we do. If we are going to be good at something or a difference maker we are going to have to put the effort in so the benefit is for others. Verse 13 starts with, "For God is working in you..." We are not alone, when the world around us is getting crazy, and we know it's going to, God is working in us to help us make the right decisions. Are we going to work hard enough with our study and prayer to be able to hear, or are we going to say our belief is enough and go through life a mess?
At the end of verse 7 and verse 8 it says, "When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God..." That is what hard work does for us, it helps us surrender and follow the Spirit. With our hard work there is a job description that so many of us don't seem to understand. Verses 14-15 say, "Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people." It doesn't say, live like the crooked and perverse people because you are saved by grace and it doesn't matter.
When we get in God's word and ask Him to open our hearts and minds He will, and the work we put in will grow us to be examples of children of the light. Then we will shine and we will not desire the things we think we need but we will serve as humble servants, enthusiastically being obedient. Verse 16 goes on to say, "Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ's return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and my work was not useless." Paul is very outwardly focused and his heart is for others to experience what he has. How is our focus? Is it for us or is it so people see our lives have been changed by God and we live working hard so that others might see our light, which is Christ, and be saved because of our faith and action not our hypocrisy. Paul had that "moment" and never looked back, we need to see our "moment" and work hard to be who God made us, not what our flesh has done in us. Amen