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“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” — Philippians 2:12

‘If You Don’t Use It, You’ll Lose It’

This statement was overheard recently in a hospital. For the patient it seemed too soon after surgery to be getting out of bed and trying to walk up and down the hallway. He would have preferred to lie in bed a few more days resting.

The therapist, however, would have none of it. “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.” A deterioration of strength, flexibility, and usefulness will occur if certain parts of the body are left unused. In prolonged cases, the tissue will atrophy and become useless. They didn’t use it and they lost it.

Neglect of use can cause a physical loss. Is the same thing true about us spiritually? You better believe it! Exercise is just as important for the soul as it is for the mind and the body.

People will passionately express their remorse that they didn’t take better care of themselves when they had the chance. The regret is going to be much more intense if they let their soul “go to pot.” “Use it or lose it” has everlasting consequences when it comes to matters of the soul.

“Work out your own salvation . . . “ Think of the words work out in this way — to be actively and vigorously engaged in the work. So, make frequent and regular use of those things which will make your salvation a reality!

There’s an urgency in these words. This is not to be our pastime. We need to make a career out of this!

The Means Of Grace

What are those things with which we are to busy ourselves and apprehend our salvation? It is the Means of Grace–the Gospel! Whether it be in Word or Sacrament, the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Through it faith is created, sins are removed, and righteousness imputed.

Neglecting the Means of Grace is a dangerous thing to do. It sets a vicious cycle in motion–the more we neglect it, the more we think we can go without it. The more we think we can get along without it, the more we neglect it.

In contrast, the more we hear and use it, the more we will love and cherish it. The more we love and cherish it, the more we will hear and use it, that is, we will exercise ourselves in those things which bestow salvation.

It is through the Gospel that the Spirit draws us to our Savior. As the Lord is beseeching us to come and hear Him, so that He may give us life through His words, but we choose to do something else with our time — are we, in effect, telling the Lord to be quiet?

There is no such thing as being in a condition of spiritual stasis. One is either daily growing closer to God, or daily drifting farther away. The latter is where the fear and trembling come in, because we know how susceptible we are to straying.

The Gospel is truly a great treasure because it dispenses so many other treasures, the crown jewels of which are forgiveness, salvation, and life everlasting. The Lord invites us to use that Gospel! It would be a shame to squander something of such value.

People sure are busy nowadays. May the Gospel renew our souls, so that we are sure to take the time to be busy with those things which make eternal life and salvation a reality for us. We never want to lose it, so let’s use it!

–Pastor Delwyn Maas