It is that time of year again where I pull out my Christmas cookie cutters and start to make the sweets and candies that my family requests. Year after year right after Thanksgiving, my children, my husband, my family and friends start to ask me when I am going to start baking. Baking is one of those little joys that I have when I can find the time to do it. My blog today is not about baking, but in a sense it is about cookie cutters. You see, a sister in the Lord came over the other day for coffee and fellowship. We hadn’t seen each other in a while, and it was time to put aside everything else so that we could reconnect. Our discussion ranged from the daily responsibilities we were facing, to our grown children, and yes, of course, Jesus. One of the things we discussed was a passage of scripture that Paul wrote in Philippians 2. What does this have to do with cookie cutters you ask? Well, let me expound for you.
“Therefore, my beloved, as you 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 who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13
I believe that many times we as Christians try to make other people fit into the same cookie cutter that we are. I might be the gingerbread man, and you might be the Christmas bells. My gingerbread mold will not fit into your Christmas bell, so why do we try to do just that? What do I mean by this? Many times I believe that we hear from God about an area of our lives. For instance, God is really speaking to me lately about being ungrateful and how He desires me to live a life of thanksgiving. But that does not mean that God is speaking to you about that. If I try to show you what God is showing me, and then put those same lessons onto you, expecting you to fall into line with them, then I am trying to fit you into my mold.
Paul tells each one of us that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. According to the Greek/ Hebrew Lexicon when these two words are used together they take on a different meaning. They are combined to “describe the anxiety of one who distrusts his ability completely to meet all requirements, but does his utmost to fulfill his duty.” With fear and trembling means that I know that in my own ability I will never attain to the perfect state of holiness that isrequired of me. Fear and trembling does not mean that I give up; it means that I strive anyway. I do the best I can with what the Lord gives me to do. I trust in Him, I have faith in Him, I surrender to Him. As an individual, who is in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I walk, I trust, I have faith, and I surrender according to His will for me- not your will or what you think I should be doing- just His will for me.
My walk is different from yours. Your walk will never look like mine, and my walk should never look like yours. There will be similarities, yes. There will be trials and tribulations that we go through that may be similar, but each one of us is an individual person who is in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The key words are “individual” and “personal”. God may be speaking to you about being more humble, but when you try to make the others around you be more humble, you try to fit them into the same cookie cutter as you, and they might not fit. Each one of us was created differently, for different purposes. What God is showing me today, I can share with you, but I should not expect you to follow what He shows me, because you are not me. You can be encouraged and blessed, but in the end, who you are in Him is not who I am in Him.
Paul goes on to tell us that it is God who works in us all to “will and to do for His good pleasure.” God could be using me as a gingerbread man this moment in my life, but He can choose to make me a Christmas bell if He is so inclined. God is the one who works in us. He is the one who works through us as well. What God is showing me and working on in me is different from what He is doing and working in your life. When we try to make others fit into our molds, we end up judging them and lifting our own hearts up in pride. I am not you and you are not me. We are two different people living two different lives. I may not be where you are spiritually, but that does not make me any less of a Christian than you are. You may not be where I am at spiritually, but I don’t look down on you because of it. We are not all the same cookie cutter, but we are all being used by the same God for His good pleasure.
|Photo from: wallpaper4god.com|
When I stand before God and give an account for all that I have done and said in this life, you will not be there standing with me. You will be giving an account for yourself. God is not going to look at me and say, “You should have done what so and so did.” No, He is going to judge me according to my individual, personal relationship with Him. He is not going to compare me to someone else and ask why I wasn’t more like them. (Well, except Jesus- He is the one whom I should exemplify) Who I am in Christ is who I am, not who you are. So many of us I believe are trying to make others fit into our cookie cutters and not seeing the damage we are doing in their lives. Paul said to work out our own salvation in fear and trembling. He did not say to look around and follow that sister in the Lord who has it all together. He did not say to go and find the most holy person you can and follow their example. The only example we need to follow is Jesus Christ’s, not mine and not yours.
I guess what I am trying to say today is that what God is doing and working in my life is personal. You may not agree with how or why He is doing things the way He is doing them, or even how I am working them all out- but what you think is not my concern. My desire today is to work out my own salvation in fear and trembling, trusting and knowing that the will of God for my life is in His hands and not mine own, and most certainly not in yours. Work out your own salvation in fear and trembling. Don’t worry and concentrate on what others are doing around you- you focus on Jesus Christ and what He wants to do in you and through you, and in the end, leave the rest up to God. Amen?