“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Confidence is an important issue for many. Usually self confidence matters the most. But when life situations knock, undermine and even destroy our self confidence we can be left broken and hurt. Philippi with its provincial capital status as an important Roman city in the region no doubt had plenty of confident people around. Its military personnel educators, philosophers and gladiators all made the place oozing with assured self determination and self reliance. There were some seeking to influence the church at Philippi by teaching that confidence “in the flesh” and in law keeping was the way to be in a right relationship with God. In chapter 3 Paul gives his own reasons why in the past he had such false confidence. His whole Jewish and Pharisaic background had given him that human religious confidence which depends on self effort and moral performance. But he now sees it all as loss and rubbish compared to the confidence
through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God. 3:9
So what kind of confidence does a Christian need to support and strengthen our faith?
Well 1 vs 6 is clear. Our confidence is in “He who began a good work”. Not in our works, performance, abilities or efforts but in His good work. The Lord had begun that work by sovereignly opening the heart of Lydia and others in Philippi. He was committed to carry it on to completion. “The work which his goodness began the arm of his strength will complete” (A.M. Toplady). Genesis 1 & 2 describes God’s work in Creation was begun and completed. When Jesus died on the cross he cried in a loud voice “It is finished” – Salvation’s work is complete and done. All our confidence is in the finished work of Christ on our behalf. It is a “good work” because its foundation is in God himself accomplished by His Son on our behalf. The “good work” has its origin in the good character and purposes of God. His infinite, immortal, inscrutable being and nature secures all he does for us and in us.
In 1:7 we see all this “good work” comes by sharing in God’s grace. So again we see nothing of human endeavour securing our confidence but God’s undeserving grace. Grace saves, supports and sustains the “good work” of God. So we are confident and have all our assurance in the grace of God alone. His grace is rich, free and plenteous. So my confidence may be fixed and stable as many challenges and difficulties seek to undermine our faith. We go back every time to the strength and commitment of God to “save completely (for ever)” those who have come to him. The final day of Christ may seem a far and distant event, but God has made a commitment to “guard what I have entrusted to him for that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).
Such confidence equips me for prayer, service, generosity, peace and joy in the Lord.
It also becomes the basis for me to “work out” my salvation in fear and trembling. True confidence in God never leads to complacency and presumption but to active perseverance and diligent service in Christian work. The apostle Paul himself along with Timothy and Epaphroditus mentioned in 2:19-30 are examples of how trusting in God’s good work motivates our service and willingness to be fully involved in ministry.
So today, enjoy the confidence that faith in Christ brings and confidently serve him wherever he has placed you.
Meirion Thomas, Malpas Road