Recently I told a friend about an important life decision that I had made, yet I hadn’t received specific guidance from the Lord that this was what I should do. In my heart it just seemed to be the right decision and one that pointed in the same direction as God has been leading me.
My friend then quoted Psalm 37:23 (ESV): “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way.”
At first I thought that doesn’t seem very spiritual. How can the everyday decisions I make be established by the Lord? After all, I make a lot of bad decisions, too!
But, the promise of the first part of Psalm 37:23 is qualified by the second part of the verse. If you desire to do God’s will, then what you do will ultimately be His will!
And this seems to be the very same message the Apostle Paul is sending to the Philippians. If God is at work in you, then what you do will be God’s work!
Now, it seems that I’m always looking around for a spiritual signpost or marker pointing me to God’s will. It’s as if I’m waiting for a voice from heaven to shout out what God wants me to do.
But, the Apostle Paul says that if you’re looking for God’s will, if you’re working out your salvation, then you will find God’s will inside you, not outside you! God’s will is in you, not out there! Because God is in you, indwelling you by His Holy Spirit.
And, if God’s will is within you, then He is at work in you to accomplish His will according to His good pleasure. In other words, your steps are established by the Lord when you delight in His way!
That doesn’t mean in all matters you always make the right decision. But, it does mean that whenever you make a bad decision, God can still move you in the direction of His will. You can still accomplish God’s will because His will is at work in you.
So, when Paul tells the Philippians (and you and me) to “work out your salvation,” he doesn’t mean you should perform good works in order to be saved or to stay saved. Rather, Paul means you should work out the salvation that God has given to you. You should fulfill your calling in Christ; you should follow God’s plans and purposes for your life.
And, when you are willing to do God’s will, God is at work in you by His Holy Spirit to accomplish His will!
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:17, NASB)