Philippians 2:14-15 & 4:4
By Drew Zuverink
“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.”
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice!”
Christians are called to stand out, to be lights shining in the darkness of a sinful world. People who are now Christians are called to be different than they were before they became a Christian. The church understands this and preaches it all of the time. As a matter of fact, the church believes that it is precisely the fact that it offers something different than what the world offers, that makes it special.
If you had to choose one act that would be so different than how the world normally operates, that it would stand out like a star in a dark sky, what would it be?
Perhaps you thought of someone being genuinely selfless and putting other people’s interest ahead of their own. Perhaps you thought of someone who is saving themselves for marriage, or someone who never swears, never lies, always works hard, speaks gently, or helps the poor. All of those things are beautiful virtues and wonderful examples of obeying God’s ideals for a good and loving world, but there is one vice that could ruin them all - grumbling.
It is true that Christians are called to be holy, to be set apart from the world by their obedience to God’s perfect commands so that they can be a witness to the world of God’s goodness and love. But they are called to be joyfully obedient, always rejoicing in the new life that they have in Christ.
What kind of a message does a Christian send to an unbeliever about the life they have in Christ if they grumble about the commands that they have to obey? If I’m an unbeliever and I hear a Christian complaining about certain things that they can or cannot do because God says so, I’m not going to want any part of that. Why would I? It sounds miserable and sad. A Christian who complains and grumbles truly handicaps their ability to draw someone towards Christ. It is the one vice that ruins all virtue.
Christians have been reborn, we’ve been given a new life in Christ and a new promise of a perfect eternity. This is the message that we proclaim to the world; that Christ has blessed us now and he’s going to bless us even more in the future, and that should remove grumbling from our lives.
We ought to rejoice and be glad always and in all situations because we have the promise of eternal glory with Christ! It is so common to complain in our world today. Gas prices are on the rise, politics have become even more polarizing, wars are happening all over, it’s difficult for some of us to make ends meet, sickness effects us, we could go on and on. The world has a million reasons to complain and if I did not have Christ and his promise of eternal glory then I would complain too. If this life was all that I had, if this was my one shot at enjoyment and after I died I just disappeared, then I would absolutely complain about the things that are harming my quality of life. But this is not my only shot at enjoyment, as a matter of fact God promises the real enjoyment after this life.
So when life gives us reasons to complain, may God remind us of the promised future that we have with him, and may we use every situation on this earth to rejoice in our promises so that the world will wonder why we are not as upset as they are. If we are able to do this and remove grumbling from our lives completely, and instead always be rejoicing in the goodness of God, we will stand out like bright stars in the night time sky!
People want to be happy. Things that bring us joy and happiness draw us in. People want to work at a company where people are happy, people want to participate in activities that make them happy, and people buy all sorts of things that will bring them joy. Christian’s have been given the most wonderful reason in the world to always be joyful no matter their circumstances; the forgiveness of our sins through Jesus Christ and the promise of heaven. When we let those facts truly make us joyful then our happiness will attract the attention of others, and when we attract the attention of others, we can offer them the reason for our joy - Jesus Christ.
So fellow brothers and sisters of true and unchanging joy, do not allow the temptation to grumble and complain darken your ability to shine bright in a dark world that already knows how to complain. Offer them something that they do not know how to do - to “rejoice always, I will say it again; rejoice!”