So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Philippians 2:12 (NASB)
You can’t have a conversation in the grocery store, read a story on Facebook or listen to the news without someone mentioning the state of our world. The godlessness, selfishness, anger, depression and basic disregard for human life or feelings. It is a depressing thought and can get our minds on things that keep us from seeing what God desires. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable, 1 Corinthians 15:19 (KJV).
Basically, listening to all of that makes us miserable. But thank the Lord we have hope beyond this life! Our hope is in the Lord! We know that Heaven will be our home forever. We know that no matter what is happening in the world around us God is in control of our lives and has a purpose for our life. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 (NASB)
Hannah understood this teaching. She knew that it was the condition of her own heart that would touch God. When Hannah went to the temple and asked Eli to bless her, the temple was in the worst condition it could possibly be in. Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas had made worship a joke. They had no faith in the Lord and had even used their position as priests for financial gain. They were stealing from the offerings. They were trying to “be like” other religions of their day and instituted temple prostitutes. The Bible tells us in 1 Samuel 2:12 that they were “worthless men”. The Bible goes on to say in verse 17, Thus the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for the men despised the offering of the Lord (NASB). But it wasn’t Hophni and Phinehas that Hannah was beseeching for fruit. It was God.
It wasn’t the condition of the church or the world that decided whether Hannah’s prayer was answered. The lack of religious fervor or effectiveness didn’t factor in to Hannah’s request. It was Hannah’s heart, it was her fervor and her determination that touched God’s heart.
We are the ones that decide what sacrifices we will make for God and the Bible tells us to work that out with fear and trembling. Why fear? According to Matthew Henry Commentary, fear is a great guard and preservative from evil. God is telling us to use the utmost care and diligence. The devil is the one telling us to look at the world and to use what others are doing as an excuse. Some may not complete this fast. They may not have a burning desire to see God move or they may be in a “comfort zone”. What about you?
As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness. Psalm 17:15 (NASB)
Bible Reading: Philippians 2:1-18