When I think about being a shining light for Jesus, I think about, well, spiritually shiny things. You know what I’m talking about. Things that people will notice. Helping out at a homeless shelter. Going on a missions trip to Liberia. Not playing video games for a year, and then using the extra time to tutor inner city kids. Doing a social media fast and then writing a 10,000-word blog post about all the profound lessons I learned (OK, scratch that one). Big, bright, shining things for Jesus. I gotta let my light shine. Can’t hide it under a bushel, and all that jazz. Cue “Shine” by the Newsboys.
But recently I read Philippians 2:14-15, which gave me pause:
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 …
Do you see the connection Paul makes? Part of the way we shine as lights in a dark world is simply by doing all things without grumbling or disputing.
On the surface, this seems a bit strange. How does refusing to grumble make me a shining light for Jesus? I think the answer is twofold.
First, grumbling is the language of the world. Let’s be honest: We live in a world that often sucks. Every day we encounter traffic jams, sliced fingers, ER visits, computer crashes, smashed iPhones, kids pooping on the carpet, angry bosses, lazy employees, termite infestations, and a thousand other trials and tribulations. Every day we are keenly aware that we live in a creation that is groaning for redemption. Our natural, sinful response to trials is grumbling. And so the world is pulsing and popping with the sounds of grumbling, complaining, cussing and middle fingers.
When, by the power of the Spirit, we refuse to grumble in the midst of trials, we are loudly demonstrating that there is something different about us. That a supernatural power is at work within us that allows us to give thanks in trials rather than grumble. That our natural, sinful response has been overridden by a supernatural, godly response.
When the world sees us not grumbling, it stands out in stark contrast against the black backdrop of a grumbling world. When the world sees us not grumbling, they are seeing Jesus at work.
The second reason refusing to grumble makes us a shining light is that it pleases God so very much. Think about it for a moment. Every moment of every day, God is assaulted by grumbling, cursing, complaining and murmuring. The harsh sounds of complaint grates against him constantly.
When we give thanks instead of complain, it rises to God as a sweet aroma. Our praise and thanksgiving pleases him and delights him. When we trust, rather than curse, in the midst of trials, it brings him pleasure.
You can be a shining light for Jesus by doing big, shiny, spiritual things. But you can also be a shining light for Jesus by praising him as you are crawl through rush hour traffic. You can be a shining light by refusing to join your coworkers as they rip the boss to shreds behind his back. You can be a shining light for Jesus as you cheerfully clean up yet another spilled bowl of Cheerios.
Don’t hide your light under a bushel. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some Newsboys to listen to.