Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 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.
– Philippians 3:14-16 (ESV)
That is what we are called to be. In reading these lines from Philippians 3 I am reminded of the description of the blessed man of Psalm 1:
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.”
There is an aspect to this that I hadn’t thought of before tonight. Look at these commands: don’t walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of scoffers. Do everything withough grumbling or complaining. Why? Well, the first answer is, of course, because these actions dishonor the Lord.
But we should also avoid them because they waste time.
When a lamp is lit, it shines. It doesn’t grumble or complain about the lighting, or what it is illuminating, or the fact that its lampshade could use some dusting.
Sitting for a time with the scoffers can be enjoyable; most of us enjoy venting our cynicism and getting our vitriol on now and then. The self-indulgence of perceived hurt carries with it a perverse pleasure. But what a colossal waste of time. I’m reminded of the scene from the movie Gettysburg in which Robert E. Lee scolds general Jeb Stuart for the late arrival of his cavalry to the battlefield. Lee states that Stuart’s honor is being questioned by the other officers. At that Stuart becomes indignant and demands a chance to settle the score with his accusers. Lee will have none of this nonsense, however. “There is no time!” he shouts.
We live in a world that pulls at our cynicism, trying to drag it out of us. These are, indeed, evil days. The natural state of man is to complain, to grumble, to scoff. Yet we are called to have none of that; there is no time! Why delay the shining of the light of Jesus into the darkness? And why let the fog of our sarcasm and bitterness cover it up?
Do everything without grumbling or questioning. That is the command. It may not seem natural, but we are children of God now, called to live blameless lives and to shine the light of hope in this dark, smoky world. May I take this to heart in my own life. It’s incredible, the effort it takes me just to cast a dim glow through the lampshade I have pulled so tightly around myself. Yet for some soul I meet tomorrow there may be no more time.