12 Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
14 Do all things without murmuring and arguing, 15so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world. 16It is by your holding fast to the word of life that I can boast on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain or labour in vain. 17But even if I am being poured out as a libation over the sacrifice and the offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you— 18and in the same way you also must be glad and rejoice with me.
Still speaking to them fondly, as members of his family, Paul tells the people in Philippi, as a church, to continue – just as they have obeyed him, to continue to follow Christ, working out their own salvation, with fear and trembling. In the face of opposition, in the face of persecution, continue to follow Christ! For God himself is at work in them, and enables them to do what must be done, to work for the kingdom, and gives them the will to do so!
They should avoid being like the Israelites in the wilderness, always complaining, but should do all things without murmuring and arguing. In so doing they will be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish. Then they shine in the midst of a perverse and crooked generation. My friends, we live in a generation that is often perverse and crooked. Even people who claim Christian values do so with strident, hate filled voices, while complaining about the way the nation is going to the “outsiders”, for they fear that if others get something, they lose. But hate, anger, fear, complaining, and arguing is no way to live into Christ’s Kingdom! It is no way to be blameless and innocent in this world! It is by holding fast to the word of life – not hate, not fear, but life – that we live into the Kingdom!
For Paul, when the people of Philippi lived into the Kingdom, then he considered his work to have been worthwhile. He could say, even boast, at what might have been the end of his life, that he had not run his race in vain! Even if he is being poured out as a sacrifice (an oil or a wine was often poured over a sacrifice on the altar), over the sacrifice of their faith, he was glad and rejoiced with them, and hoped that they also would rejoice and be glad with him. He is saying here that whatever has happened to him, whatever would happen, it was all worthwhile!