Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me. ~Philippians 2:14-18 (ESV)
Paul’s heart for the church at Philippi comes out deeply again in these words. Even in the midst of suffering that could very well lead to death (and Paul, ultimately, did die because of his faith), he took great joy in the church. He also longed for them to finish well. When Jesus returns, Paul desired to stand before him, proud of what the church had done.
So, Paul called the church to “shine as lights in the world.” This is the very same thing Jesus called all his followers to do in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:14-16). The world, Paul wrote, is a dark place—twisted and crooked with sin. In such an environment, we as Christ-followers are to bring hope.
One way we do this is by living “blameless and innocent” as the children of God. Not that we distance ourselves from sinners who need Jesus, but that we distance ourselves from our own sinful ways. We then live to love and serve others as Jesus loved and served us.
With this, we are to “do all things without grumbling or disputing.” Or, to put it positively, we are to do all things with thankfulness and seeking for peace. Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:20 that we should give “thanks always and for everything to God the Father.” Every good thing in our lives is a gift from God’s hand. Even the bad things in our lives, God will correct and turn for good in the end.
Grumbling, then, refuses to acknowledge God’s work and hand in our lives. Disputing is a refusal to disagree well with others. It is arguing our will in order to be right, not giving ear and deference to others in order to serve and edify them. As Christians, we should seek to be free of both negative attitudes.
When we live thankful-to-God lives and seek for peace, it tells the world a better story. We shine a brighter light into the darkness, drawing people from their sin and to Christ.
New posts from this devotional series in Philippians will run most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.