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. (NLT)
It is so easy to go to extremes in living out our faith. Some strive so hard that following Jesus becomes sheer hard work and frantic activity. Others have an attitude of “let go and let God” which leads to passivity, and a belief that God will sort things out so why bother.
Our text reminds us that living out our faith involves effort on our part. Holiness and right living doesn’t come automatically. We work on it. And yet such work on our part is enabled by the Spirit of God at work in us. We work, he works. He doesn’t push me aside and I don’t push him aside.
For example, when illness strikes us, we are to both pray for God’s healing power and also to avail ourselves of whatever medical help God makes available. It is so sad that some refuse such medical help and insist God will heal them. Ignoring the fact that God may choose medical means to perform the healing. He so often does.
To demand that God heal in one particular, non medical way, is arrogance. Such arrogance is not faith but a childish demand that our God do things our way. We demand not just the end, but the means by which the end may be attained.
Taking what steps we can to keep ourselves or others from danger, or to enhance our quality of life are expressions of faith. We take hold of whatever means God has provided to achieve the ends he may desire. Trying to do everything in our own strength is futile. Deciding to do nothing may be just as futile.