12 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.
"Work out your own salvation" means that the entire church was to work together to rid themselves of divisions and discord. The Philippian Christians needed to be especially careful to obey Christ, now that Paul wasn't there to continually remind them about what was right. We too must be careful about how we believe and live, especially when we are on our own. In the absence of cherished Christian leaders, we must focus our attention and devotion even more on Christ so that we wont' be sidetracked.
13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
God has not left us alone in our struggles to do his will. he wants to come alongside us and within us to help. He helps us want to obey him and then gives us the power to do it. The secret to a changed life is to submit to his control and let him work.
To be like Christ, we must condition ourselves to think like Christ. To change our desires to be more like Christ's, we need the power of the indwelling Spirit (1:19), the influence of faithful Christians, obedience to God's Word (not just exposure to it), and sacrificial service. Often it is in doing God's will that we gain the desire for it (see 4: 8,9).
14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
Why are complaining and arguing so harmful? If all that people know about a church is that its members constantly argue, complain, and gossip, they get a false impression of Christ's Gospel. Belief in Christ should unite those who trust him. If our church is always complaining and arguing, it lacks the unifying power of Jesus Christ. Stop arguing with other Christians or complaining about people and conditions within the church and let the world see Christ.
Our lives should be characterized by moral purity, patience, and peacefulness, so that we will "shine as lights" in a crooked and perverse world. A transformed life is an effective witness to the power of God's Word. Is your light shining brightly, or is it clouded by complaints and arguing? Be a clean, radiant light shining out for God.
17 Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.
Even if he had to die, Paul was content, knowing he had helped the Philippians live for Christ. When you're totally committed to serving Christ, sacrifice for the faith of others is a joyous reward.
18 For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.