Paul’s letter to the Philippians includes what might seem to us a contradictory instruction. Consider what he wrote in Philippians 2:12-13:
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but 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 work for his good pleasure.
While his comment ‘you work/its God working in you’ might seem to undermine itself, it expresses an understanding that moves throughout the Bible. We will examine two instances of that idea – one from the Hebrew Bible and one from the New Testament – and consider what it means for our relationship with God.