Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.
Philippians 2:14-16a (NIV)
Read: Philippians 2:12-18
Consider: You may have noticed that there is a growing level of negativity in society at the moment. Government seems to be fair game for anyone who wants to complain about their lot, or about things in general. Let’s be clear about this, I am not underestimating the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic. The consequences are horrific for anyone who has a loved one who has died as a consequence of catching the virus. All aspects of the situation are horrible – infection, death, isolation from family in their dying moments, distancing preventing families mourning, loss of employment and lowering of incomes. None of this is enjoyable.
What I am going to say will be counter-intuitive to many in society, but hopefully will ring true for you if you are a committed Christian. The Bible teaches us that even in the face of great adversity we should have a different attitude to the world. Look again at the verses quoted above from Philippians 2. Can you see how not indulging in grumbling (and arguing) can have a positive effect on our witness as Christians? Paul says that by avoiding grumbling we ‘… will shine among them like stars as you hold firmly to the word of life’ (2:15-16). If we can avoid grumbling, we will stand out as being completely different in our attitudes to the rest of society.
Elsewhere in Philippians Paul says: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice! (Philippians 4:4). Interestingly, Paul had to repeat himself by saying it twice. He understood human nature very well and our natural tendency to concentrate on the negative, rather than the positive. In his letter to the believers in Thessalonica he said: Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). This does not mean that as a Christian we have to pretend to be happy, but that our happiness is based on us being ‘in the Lord’ and ‘in Christ Jesus’.
In another of his letters, this time to Timothy, Paul speaks of contentment in these words: But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it (1 Timothy 6:6-7). None of us know what the future hold for us in the current health crisis. While we cannot control the future, we can deal with the present in the most positive way we can. As Christians our desire is to ‘shine like stars’ in society and the Bible tells us that avoiding grumbling is one way to keep our witness strong at this time.
Pray: Father, keep us from adopting a grumbling and complaining spirit. May we hold firmly to the word of life as we seek to shine like stars in society. Amen