“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. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings” Phil 2:12-14

There are two parts to being His servant. The first, is to will His good will, that is, to listen to His promptings, acknowledging that we don’t need to evaluate or even understand them–we KNOW His will is good.

And the second, is to obey and do His good will; that is, rather than being in charge of our own ways and choices, or evaluating action for its impact on our preferences, pleasures, and promotion, to innocently and simply do His good will with gladness.

These steps do not constitute a formula at all. It is not an “open loop” process. Following Him requires feedback and realignment. Hearing and doing His will requires continual listening, continual reliance on Him, continual submission to His wisdom and trust in His goodness. It is impossible apart from Him. We certainly know the impossible part from experience.

Lately the word that captures my imagination is “deference.” Giving God His rightful respect and reverence, embracing the privilege of being a servant in His great house, I defer to His will, His choices, His direction. The entire community is alive with deference. Each of us directly connected to Him and directed by Him. A community of deference, where we all seek to defer our will to His, and are defering to one another, esteeming others as better than ourselves, and in all ways seeking to help each other in following Him with deference. We are not a Theocracy, which is a government by priests, by mediators. We are a massive, living tree, each of us connected to the branches as leaves that draw nutrients from the light of the sun and the air around them. Providing for the succor and safety of all who come under His shadow. Each leaf reflecting words related to deference: yielding, courtesy, civility, reverence, obeisance, submission, acquiescence, complaisance, capitulation, veneration, regard, acclaim, esteem, consideration, respect, honor, thoughtfulness, politeness…


    • Hi Kathryn, “How” is perhaps the toughest question, because we all fall so short. Paul advises us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. “Fear and trembling speaks to me of someone highly motivated and focused. We do not often see that kind of determined seeking after God in ourselves and others, but I think this is important to nurture in ourselves. I think our hyper-secular society has a greater influence on us than we are aware.

      We might seek to recapture fresh respect, reliance, and reverance for God who is always with us, always ready to interact with us. To become tuned in continuously in a conversation with God does take some discipline, and some means. Things like starting the day with quiet reflection on God, and reading in His word. Memorizing and rehearsing scripture passages that become meaningful to us helps. Setting ourselves apart to pray several times a day contributes to our feeling and experience of connection with God. Google can bring you to various additional disciplines Christians have used over the centuries to become more solemnly God-aware. I think these might be employed as we earnestly, with fear and trembling, seek to have His life flowing through us.

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