Shining Like Stars
“Mommy, I don’t want to take a nap. I don’t want to eat lunch. I want chocolate milk (said in a whining voice). I want to go inside because it’s too hot.” These are just a few examples of the daily grumbles I hear from my two girls. In the midst of the complaining, you would hear me respond with Philippians 2:14-15. “The Bible says to do everything…” Their response (in unison) is, “without grumbling and complaining so I shine like a star.” (Since my girls are only 3 and 2 years old, we take a little liberty with the Scriptures.) In the midst of trying to teach them to not be complainers and to instead be thankful, God began to reveal to me the state of my heart. My children do what they see modeled in and by me. To be honest, many times I model grumbling and complaining instead of thanksgiving. Ouch! However, I know I am not alone in this sin. We live in a culture that tolerates and encourages complaining. We even have restaurants whose motto is “Have it your way!” So, how do we live a life that causes us to shine above the rest of humanity? Let’s see what God asks of us.
Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world. Philippians 2:14-15
This command is all inclusive. It would be really nice if God gave us an out. I would not mind if He said, “Do some things without grumbling and arguing…” On days like today, it is easy to live thankful. The weather is perfect; my girls slept all night; and, I have a Starbucks latte in hand. I can do this. But, what about yesterday? I did not sleep well. My oldest fought with either me or her sister all day. And, I burned myself twice while cooking dinner. Are we expected to not grumble when we do not feel good? Are we expected to not argue when our teenager or husband come home in with a foul mood? The answer is, Yes!
This command involves the heart. Some of you may not be vocal complainers but inward complainers. When Paul used the words “grumbling and complaining” he referred to arguing or mumbling to oneself. I have seen this personified in my children when I ask them to clean up the playroom. They may not throw a fit or verbally tell me “no,” but I can hear them say under their breath, “I don’t want to clean up. I don’t feel good.” This is the heart attitude Paul is addressing. God is not as concerned with our words if our hearts are far from Him. (Isaiah 29:13) Many times my complaints do not make it out of my mouth. Instead, I grumble in my spirit. I grumble to God about my situation instead of coming to Him in prayer. Complaining does not produce an open heart and mind. However, rejoicing and thanking God in the midst of difficult circumstances provides us with an opportunity to display Jesus to a lost world. (Phil 2:15) Ladies, are you prone to complain? If so, you need to realize that you have a heart problem, and you must confess it before God. He promises that He will hear, forgive, and restore you. (1 Jn 1:9)
This command is possible. I am amazed at the simplicity of God’s Word. He does not give us a command and then leave us powerless to obey it. The previous verse says, “For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” (Phil 2:13) I do not know about you, but that makes me excited and gives me great hope. God is actually on my side, and He is working in me and enabling me to be a thankful person. We do not have to accept the world’s standards. We can allow God to change our complaining heart to one that rejoices even when we do not feel like it. God does not promise it will be easy, and we may encounter situations that seem impossible to express thanks. But, Jesus does not ask us to do something He has not already done. With the cross facing Him, Jesus chose joy (Heb 12:3). I do not know what circumstances you may be in right now, but I encourage you to look to Jesus for your joy. I want to challenge us to forgo our natural tendency to complain and mutter under our breath. Instead, let us be women who accept that we can be women with a joyful, thankful heart.
This command comes with a promise. My girls love things that sparkle. Light is always more comforting and attractive than darkness. God gives us a tangle way to be light in the midst of a dark word…stop complaining. Too often Christians are known for what they are against instead of what they favor. It is rare for a Christian to shine like a star because all the world sees is a people who grumble against almost anything. Instead of complaining about the young adult who has too many tattoos and piercings, get to know them and reach out to them. Instead of grumbling about the load of laundry that awaits you at home, be thankful that you have clothes to wear. Instead of moaning about the amount of homework you have to do, be grateful that you have the opportunity to get an education. The reasons for praise are endless. But, we must be intentional. I want to be a person who stands out because of my heart of praise.
So I ask you (and me). Do you shine like a star in this world? Or, are you a black hole of complaint? My prayer is that we would be women who stand out in the midst of this “crooked and perverted generation.” Let’s begin shining!