Opening the Bible today I read:
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." --Phil. 2:3-4
Imagine how that would be . . . to wake up and rather the first thoughts and actions being taken were not for one's own ambitions . . . but considering foremost the interests of others. . . .
But with attention and effort . . . you can train yourself to head in this direction. It takes daily presence of mind. A note by the bed or stuck on the bathroom mirror can help to remind you of the standard that is expected of us who pursue light and truth.
Then also, to have a consistent ongoing attitude of considering others as more important than yourself! Who ever does that? Oh, many delude themselves that this is what they do when they engage in good works, service, philanthropy . . . but most often if you scratch the surface you will find that rather than feeding others, the servant is feeding his own hidden spiritual pride.
Further I read, "work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." --Phil 2:12-13
Oh that we realized how truly precarious our situation is! We float along, accomplishing and receiving so many things that are mindlessly taken for granted . . . even as if they were due to us, owed to us. Oh that the curtain were parted and we saw how every breath, every slight movement--let alone any larger moves of existing--are all provided, given to us by Another. Nothing is done of ourselves. We couldn't exist for a single shred of an infinitesimal moment . . . but that Another is causing and upholding it!
And if we saw how dangerous is the path we are walking in reality . . . we would dissolve in a flash of horror, I am certain. Mercifully we are spared of seeing how relatively impossible our situation is. In actuality we are like someone walking on a needle-thin tightrope . . . strung over a chasm of roiling, searing, flaming magma . . . whilst hateful, vengeful winged harpies by the thousand are swooping in and attacking us, to knock us off. Oh how greatly do we take for granted and remain comfortably unaware of how much we are protected, guided, strengthened and sustained!
When we get even the slimmest clue . . . indeed, there is no way NOT to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling."
But lest we should take some pride even in that righteous urge and comprehension . . . look! Not even this small move toward holiness can we take any credit for, "FOR IT IS GOD Who is at work in you, BOTH TO WILL and to WORK FOR HIS GOOD PLEASURE"!
This is just one of the places in scripture I get the clue to suspect that, in the deepest, ultimate sense, we really don't do anything. At the very least, we don't do anything good. Here, He tells us that HE works in us . . . even to WILL . . . to work for His pleasure.
I am endlessly fascinated and compelled by a mystery and seeming paradox here, I must admit. And that is that it appears to me (and I experience it) . . . that the more we realize and accept and submit to God's absolute sovereignty . . . IN ALL THINGS . . . including even what we will to do . . . we gain our greatest and most profound individual freedom and power of personal will. . . . There is a deep and glorious and astounding purpose and result involved . . . in the process of our so-called "wills" becoming one with and in conformity . . . the will of God!
Praise God! Worship God. Crave holiness and work out your salvation with fear and trembling for He is loving, generous and merciful!