Main point summary
When Christians live out their salvation by rejecting the temptation to grumble or complain, the gospel is proclaimed and those who have poured into us are encouraged.
Therefore, my beloved, f as you have always g obeyed,
so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence,
work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,
for h it is God who works in you,
both to will
and to work for i his good pleasure.
Do all things j without grumbling or k disputing,
that you may be blameless and innocent,
l children of God m without blemish
n in the midst of o a crooked and twisted generation,
among whom you shine p as lights in the world,
holding fast to q the word of life,
so that in r the day of Christ s I may be proud
that t I did not run in vain
or labor in vain.
As has been said before, asking whether God's sovereignty or our effort is more important with regards to sanctification is akin to asking whether the left wing or the right wing is more important on an airplane. What God has joined together, let no man separate. Paul's separate notation of God's work with regards to my will and then my work reminds me of how foolish it is to try and change behavior without getting to the root of the problem in the heart. There are two encouraging notes in verses 12 & 13. First, it is God who is at work in us, and God never fails. Second, us working hard on our sanctification brings pleasure to God! Grumbling and complaining tells unbelievers that the gospel isn't all that good or at least all that different from what they believe. Let us not try to make a difference by being clever or inventive. Let us make a difference by holding fast to that gospel that saves and that word of God which is truth. We're not islands. Countless men and women have poured into us, and when they see us fighting for holiness and giving thanks at all times, it brings them great joy.