Has anyone else been challenged by the lessons in Philippians the last few weeks? I sure have. Man, oh man, have my toes been stepped on a few times. I had no idea when the Lord led me to dive into Philippians, here on my new blog, that I would be challenged so much. Without further ado, let’s see what challenge awaits this week.
For the last six months I have spent a lot of time with my Aunt Carolyn. I have dropped groceries every week at her house. While she had an extended hospital/skilled facility stay, we talked multiple times per day. We have always said she is the angel of the family.
Aunt Carolyn is without a doubt a faithful believer. But there has always been something else that has stood out about her. It’s the thing that stands out so much that when others talk about her, it is evident. When cashing a check for her, the bank employee described her as precious. When talking to the skilled facility staff, they told me she was the sweetest thing ever and she would be missed terribly.
What is that thing? It is her shiny, bright light attitude.
One day I told her that I wished that I could have such a joy-filled attitude at all times like her. Her response, “It’s fun to be this way.” Wow! That just makes me smile typing it.
That’s Aunt Carolyn. And, that brings me to the passage in Philippians 2 this week.
Paul reminds us to not only have the attitude of Christ (Philippians 2:1-11), but to shine brightly for Christ (Philippians 2:12-18).
What does that mean?
An attitude of Christ embodies unity, unselfishness, humility, and love (Philippians 2:1-3).
A shiny, bright light attitude is one that is obedient and reverent to God; that holds firmly to the word of life; that lives clean, innocent lives as children of God; one that does everything without complaining or arguing so that no one can criticize you (Philippians 2:12-16).
Whoa! Do everything without complaining or arguing? Now wait just one minute. I mean that I get the other stuff. I know what unity, unselfishness, humility and love for others mean. And, I get that we should be obedient and reverent to God, holding firmly to the truth of his Word, and strive to live without sin in our lives. That’s totally expected as a believer. But surely scripture doesn’t say that we need to do EVERYTHING without complaining or arguing? Really?
Let’s look at a few versions.
Do all things. Everything.
Grumbling. Complaining. Murmuring. Faultfinding.
(ESV, NLT, AMPC)
Disputing. Arguing. Bickering. Doubting.
(ESV, NLT, MSG, AMPC)
It’s right there. Clearly. In multiple versions. Means the same in Greek. I looked it up (somehow hoping for a different answer.)
Why is this important?
So that we are shining like bright lights in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation (NLT, ESV).
The Passion Translation says, “live a cheerful life.” That’s exactly what my Aunt Carolyn does.
She lives cheerfully. Despite being a widow. Despite her aching bones. Despite living in a really old, small house by today’s standards. Despite having to care for her older sister’s health and affairs. Despite being a social butterfly and having to stay in more and more these days. Even when she sat alone and quarantined in a skilled facility room for two weeks. She did not argue or complain.
Jesus said, “Your lives light up the world. Let others see your light from a distance, for how can you hide a city that stands on a hilltop? And who would light a lamp and then hide it in an obscure place? Instead, it’s placed where everyone in the house can benefit from its light. So don’t hide your light! Let it shine brightly before others, so that the commendable things you do will shine as light upon them, and then they will give their praise to your Father in heaven” Matthew 5:14-16 TPT).
Like Paul, Aunt Carolyn lives cheerfully. She doesn’t allow complaining or arguing to hide or snuff out her light. She has a shiny, bright light attitude – shining brightly for Christ in a world that so desperately needs light right now.
For some of us, that comes easily. I am not one of them. But, oh how I want to follow her example! Maybe we could make baby steps together. Sing along with me. “This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” *
Make a gratitude list daily. The best way to turn a complaining spirit around is to be thankful.
Pray before you jump into an argument (especially on social media). Ask God what will bring him glory in the situation.
Remember the attitude of Christ is unity, unselfishness, humility and love. You can choose to disagree and claim the truth with an attitude of Christ.
Pray Daily: Lord, help me to recognize when I argue and complain. Change my heart. Change my attitude so that I will also be a shiny, bright light that directs others to you in a world that needs you more than ever.
* This beloved hymn was written by Harry Dixon Loes in the early 20th century.