Those of you who are young know what it is to have “a work out” – we understand it as a simple way of saying – exercising to keep yourself fit. It is just as important; well, actually far more important, to keep ourselves spiritually fit. If you are really young and feel very physically fit, then make sure your aim is also to grow up and become spiritually fit.
Note the phrase that occurs in our Philippians readings this morning. Paul writes, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to work for his good pleasure” [2,12-13] That’s a fantastic verse … God works in us!
But if we are not interested in him and do not meditate on his involvement in our lives, then we cannot expect him to watch over us in whatever “work out” we choose.
If we choose to “work out” God’s way then we will be training ourselves to think and act in a Christ like way and we will use our lives to serve him.
For example, we will aim to follow Paul’s advice “being in full accord and one mind” with those also in training. “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit” counselled Paul, “but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” [2 v.2,3]
We have also been reading Ezekiel and the Jews he knew totally failed the spiritual “work out” God expected of them. He had been patient with them over many generations but now all sorts of terrible things happened to them, as we have been reading. Our God is very patient; he wants us to be saved, to be in his wonderful kingdom which will soon come on this earth.
Just as we do physical exercises, especially the young – but also those not so young who still want to feel “young.” In the same way both young and old must exercise their minds about God and Jesus by reading God’s word.
In that way we will know what to pray for – and our prayers will be answered. But if we only pray when we are in trouble, is it fair to expect God to answer? Trouble is certainly coming on this earth – we will need to be spiritually fit as fully as possible to cope with it. Is there enough oil (of faith) in your lamps?