Why, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence…
I. THE SPIRIT IN WHICH THIS GREAT WORK IS TO BE PURSUED.
1. What will come of any work we undertake largely depends on the "spirit" in which we undertake it. We may enter upon it half-heartedly, or as something merely secondary. But our salvation is to be the principal thing to us; and working it out is to be thorough.
2. Wise cautiousness. "Fear and trembling." This is not nervous dread, nor timorous quaking, but a keen and ceaseless outlook considering foes and temptations; a self-distrust that sharpens vigilance; a recognition of danger and preparedness to meet it.
3. Cheerfulness — "without murmurings." The work we do cheerfully brings its own blessing. Do not, then, do it in a grudging, complaining spirit; and this, not only in doing but in bearing.
4. Hopefulness "without disputings," not with men but with God. Distrust of God will sap our sources of strength. Work out with unquestioning trust in God's wisdom, goodness, and power.
5. Becomingness, in view of their relationship. They are "the sons of God," they must live as God's sons — holy, loving, etc. Their lineage should show itself in their spirit.
II. THE INCENTIVES TO THIS COURSE OF CONDUCT.
1. Consistency. The work is begun and ought in consistency to be finished. Men plead consistency as an argument for a bad course, as Herod in the case of John the Baptist; much more should Christians for a good one.
2. God's help. In working out our salvation we are not left to our own unaided powers. Because we have effectual help let us be thorough, etc., in this.
3. Responsibility — "lights in the world." Be then as the lighthouse and the star.
4. Personal relations. They are the apostle's spiritual children.
(J. J. Goadby.)
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.