Read: Philippians 2:12-18
Consider: Today’s reading from Philippians 2 has the title ‘Do everything without grumbling’ in the NIV. As I read through the passage I would probably re-title this ‘Shine like stars’. You may ask why. I suppose it is because grumbling is a negative thing, while shining like stars is positive. Can you see that Paul tells the Philippians not to grumble or argue and the positive result of this is that they will shine like stars.
The word Paul uses for ‘grumbling’ conveys a state of discontent and criticism. The word ‘arguing’ speaks of debating issues; perhaps contentious issues. Paul is basically saying that the Philippians lives should be such that grumbling and arguing have no place. This negativity should be replaced by something positive – see Philippians 1:27 where Paul says: Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Paul is always concerned that the witness of the believers should accurately reflect Christ. Grumbling and arguing cannot represent Christ and any church that is known for these negative attributes will not give the correct impression of Christ in the world.
Notice that Paul refers to the world in which the Philippians live as ‘… a warped and crooked generation’ (2:15). While we may be convinced that society is getting worse and more ungodly, it is clear from this description of their society that things haven’t changed that much. Ungodliness may be seen in different ways today, but it is still ungodliness.
Let’s think for a moment about the idea of ‘shining like stars’. While contemplating this it occurred to me that stars shine brightly all the time, regardless of the cloudy conditions on earth. Their light may be obscured by the clouds, but above the clouds they are still shining brightly. Although we live in a dark world, where sin affects everything, our witness as Christians should be ‘… blameless and pure …’ (2:15).
When Paul says ‘Do everything without grumbling or arguing …’ (2:14), do you think he really means ‘everything’? It only makes sense if it means all things. This must include how the Philippians live at home, at work and at church.
The warning for us today is to avoid grumbling and arguing in every aspect of our lives, while the encouragement is to shine like stars in a dark and ungodly society.
Pray: Father, help us to see the negative effects of grumbling and arguing on our witness in the world. May we shine like stars, revealing more and more of Christ to those around us. Amen