The Importance of Attitude- Philippians 2:12-30

In this passage, the Apostle Paul emphasizes the importance of attitude in the life of the believer, and how our attitude effects all we do and say in life. He begins, in verse 12, with a “therefore”, which serves to connect this passage to what came immediately before it, and what comes before it is the well known “kenosis passage”, which explains how Jesus “humbled Himself” (verse 8) and became “obedient unto death” (verse 8). This attitude of humility is then put forth as the proper attitude for believers to display in this passage. He begins by referring to his readers as “dear friends”, the Greek agapetoi, “beloved”, and by commending them for their lives of obedience. The Greek word “obedience” here is hupokuo, literally to “hear under”, and it describes a lifestyle in which the Philippians heard, understood and lived in line with Paul’s teaching. He then urges them to “continue to work out their salvation” with “fear and trembling”. He tells them here to “work out” what is in them. They have been saved, have been living like it and are urged to continue to live like it. They have lived with the same attitude as Jesus, humbling themselves before God by loving one another, by putting others ahead of themselves as Jesus did. They have been saved, so their motive for living is no longer self-preservation but love. They know God will take care of them and are freed to focus on caring for others since God will take care of them. Paul knew all of this was true of them because they had been working out their salvation with “fear and trembling”. The phrase “fear and trembling” here is a figure of speech describing an attitude displayed in three ways: 1) an attitude of respect toward and reverence for one another 2) a fear of failure to do one’s duty 3) submission to God as seen in Jesus in Philippians 2:5-11. Paul begins here with their attitudes, because one’s attitude goes a long way toward determining how they behave, and those without this attitude of “fear and trembling” will not “work out their salvation” as God intends. This attitude is critical in the life of the believer, for it is only in those who display this attitude that God will work in to “will and to act according to His good purpose” (verse 13). This is why our attitude is so important, for without the right attitude, without the attitude of “fear and trembling”, God’s will and plan for our lives will never come to pass. Our actions come from our choices, and our choices are determined by our attitudes. This is why attitude is so critical, for God is “well pleased” (Greek eudokia- translated “good purpose” in verse 13) when we live with the proper attitude, with the attitude of fear and trembling. How then, can we determine if we are in fact living with this attitude? Paul provides the answer in verse 14. We are told here to “do everything without complaining or arguing”. We first note the presence of the word “everything” here, and recognize the fact that this also includes the “unpleasant” things, because loving others and doing one’s duty before God is not always “pleasant” and often includes things which are very difficult and often quite unpleasant, which is why our attitude is to be like Jesus’, who did something very difficult and unpleasant (dying on the cross for our sins) in order to love others and do His “duty” before His Father. Doing right is often difficult, and we also learn here that what we do is not the only thing which matters to God, what also matters very much is the attitude we display while we do what is right. We are to do everything without “complaining or arguing”, both of which reflect not activity but attitude. The Greek word translated complaining here is gongysmos, literally “to mutter”. In God’s eyes, to do what is right merely because you “have to” or because it is your duty, going through the motions of “loving” others while complaining the whole time is really no different than not doing what is right at all, for God looks at the heart, and an attitude of “muttering” displays a heart that is not where it needs to be, a very wrong “attitude”. The Greek word translated arguing here is dialogismos. This is a compound word in the Greek consisting of the preposition dia (through) and the root word logos (to explain). It again refers primarily to an attitude, an attitude of submission, of yieldedness. It refers to an attitude in which we live without the need for a thorough explanation for everything, without having to know exactly why God wants us to do what he wants us to do, of living without all of the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed. Those who live like this, who live without “complaining or arguing”, are those who live life according to the attitude which Paul calls us to here. They are the ones who “work out their salvation” and are those in whom God can “work in to will and to act according to His good purpose”. None of this will take place in our lives without this attitude of “fear and trembling”, so this is why Paul places such an emphasis on attitude here, for our attitude really does determine whether or not God’s will and plan for our lives will ever come to pass. May we all learn to lives our lives with an attitude of fear and trembling, with a proper attitude toward God, ourselves and one another, in order that all of God’s purpose for our lives may be fulfilled.

No Comments Conformed to the Image of Christ  //  Epistles  //  Growing In Grace  //  Living with a Purpose

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