The Apostle Paul writes, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:11-12). Paul knew salvation was a gift from God, not something the diligent believer could achieve through works. However, once the gift was received, Paul also knew, as we need to understand, that it does take great effort to live as a saved person. Following Jesus is free in the sense that he welcomes all without qualification. Free? Yes. Cheap? No. Following Jesus requires to give our all in developing as disciples.
In the verses immediately preceding Paul’s ‘work out your own salvation,’ the apostle tells of Jesus ‘emptying himself and taking the form of a slave.’ Why did Jesus give up so much and suffer so much? He did that you and I might be saved. He took the death our sin brings on himself. He put in the ultimate effort, and he expects us to give everything to be his followers.