And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
(Philippians 1:9-11 ESV)
In verse 6 of Philippians 1 Paul expressed confidence that God would continue to work in the lives of his readers until the day Jesus returns. This is true. Once a person belongs to God by professing faith in Jesus, God will work to change that person into what He wants them to be: like Jesus [Romans 8:29]. The goal God has for each of us is to be like Christ and He begins moving us toward that goal the instant we believe.
But that does not mean that there is nothing that we need to do. God doesn’t do all the work. He doesn’t wave a magic wand over us and suddenly we are like Jesus. God teaches us and gives us the wisdom and strength to make the necessary changes in our lives. But we still have to do the changing.
Its very much like a baseball coach who gives his player instructions on how to properly swing the bat. There are many facets of a baseball swing, all of which must come together in order to make solid contact with the ball. But it would be impossible to expect someone to perfect them all at the same time. So a coach will point out one thing wrong with a batter’s swing and give him instructions on what needs to change for him to do it right. But the player still needs to do it! The first few times he tries he may not get it right. But after enough coaching and enough practice eventually he’ll correct that issue. Then he and the coach can move on to the next area of his swing.
There are also many facets of the Christian life – many more than there are in a baseball swing. None of us are anywhere close to being like Jesus. It will take all of this life and the next to get there. In order to achieve this goal we need constant coaching. And we need to practice what God teaches us. This will require being put in situations to test and grow our character in these areas.
Paul knew this. That is why he prayed for his friends in Philippi. He didn’t just sit back and wait for God to do His thing. He knew that God doesn’t work that way. The Christian life is an active life. We need to be doing the things God tells us to do. We also need to be praying for other believers so that they can do the things God wants them to do too.
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