Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-not only in my presence but now much more in my absence-continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
This verse has always bothered me, I thought salvation was a free gift. So, then what’s this verse talking about? Does it mean that we really do have to work for our salvation after we accept Jesus as our Savior?
I prayed about it, asked God to clarify what it meant, meditated on it, listened to what others said it meant. I started to have an idea what it meant but it still wasn’t clear enough to be able to verbalize what it meant.
As a speech pathologist and a teacher, I know if you can’t explain it to someone else then you probably don’t get it completely.
I also know prepositions can be very important. In this case the words work out instead of work for are crucial to the meaning. Anyway this analogy popped into my head. Yes, I believe it was the Holy Spirit clueing me in. Let me explain what I believe the verse means by using this analogy.
The City Slicker And The Farm
A city slicker inherits a farm from a distant relative. The city slicker owns that farm, free and clear. There is no doubt about that, he owns the farm. He doesn’t even have to pay taxes on it. It was all taken care of by his relative.
No one can take the farm from the city slicker. He doesn’t have to do anything to get the farm except to accept this wonderful free gift. He didn’t do anything to deserve the farm but thanks to his very loving and generous relative, it’s definitely his farm!
The city slicker is very excited about his new farm. He’s telling everyone about this wonderful gift that he’s received but, alas, he’s never been a farmer before. He doesn’t know the first thing about farming. He doesn’t know how to use the tools and equipment. He doesn’t know what to plant, when to plant, or how to plant.
So, even though the farm belongs to the city slicker, he doesn’t know how to use the farm to its best advantage. He doesn’t know how to make the most of his farm.
The city slicker has a choice.
He can just enjoy knowing that he owns the farm or he can learn how to make the most of his new farm. The choice is his. Either way the farm belongs to him but if he chooses to learn how to farm, he can make the farm much more fruitful for himself and for others.
Becoming a Christian is the same way. We can choose to learn how to use our wonderful gift of salvation so that we can become more fruitful for God. We can, also, choose to accept the gift but not dig further to understand the true meaning of God’s gift. We won’t be as fruitful and we may miss out on many of the blessings that God wants to give us.
But we are still Christians even if we don’t unwrap all the generous gifts God included as part of the gift of salvation. A few of the wonderful gifts included under the multifaceted gift of salvation are God’s love, grace, forgiveness, an intimate relationship with him, wisdom and power to name a few. I could go on and on but time doesn’t permit it.
God in His great love and generosity wasn’t satisfied with just giving us a way to get to heaven someday. He wanted to give us a way to overcome the world now. So, how do we go about opening all these gifts? Through Bible study, meditation, and putting God’s words into action.
It may not always easy, but it’s always worth it!