Why, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence…
I. MAN'S PART IN SALVATION — i.e., the Christian man's, for the unregenerate have no spiritual germ to work out. We must work energetically — "energize, for it is God who energizes in you." We must act as though everything depended on our own personal efforts. This includes —
1. Untiring diligence, improving every moment; making the best use of every opportunity.
2. Thoroughness, wholeness. Half work will not do (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Mind, heart, body.
3. Fortitude. We must work undaunted by difficulty (Acts 20:23-24).
4. With fear and trembling (Ephesians 6:5). The fear that is begotten by the anxiety to please.
II. GOD'S PART.
1. "God worketh," which supplies —
(1) The motive. The good we do is not our own but God's. The light is not in the window; that is simply the medium through which light passes. The coal burns and throws off light and heat because the sun worked its light and warmth into it thousands of years ago.
(2) The power. He who created the heavens, established the rocks, painted the landscape with beauty, works in us; let us, therefore, though Paul and the whole brotherhood of ministers be absent, fail not.
(3) The reason. God works in, therefore we should work out.
2. How does God work?
(1) In the tree by air, light, heat, rain, and dew, and the tree works out in wood, leaves, and fragrant blossoms.
(2) In man by means of His truth, Spirit, and grace, and we work them out in love, joy, etc. (Galatians 5:22-23).
3. God works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. He does this that He may accomplish His gracious purpose in the salvation of mankind — "for God willeth all men to be saved."
(D. R. Jenkins.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.