We live in a time that is as difficult as ever not to be angry about something. It could be from the temperature of our Starbucks coffee to our internet speed, maybe for some our pay at work. Well if not, there is always politics to get us on edge. How are we to navigate these times with joy and strength? Who will we allow to lead us, and who will follow us? If they do choose to follow us, why?
There has never been a better time for the Church to rise up in humility, as now. Paul was facing many of the same rising issues we face today. Yet he implores the Church to stand steadfast with the Giver of Life and choose to fight for their joy and not allow it to be stolen through displeasure. Displeasure can be a silent thief that steals our light. Before we know it we blend into the world, and our presence is dull and almost nonexistent. Paul is imploring us to not allow the struggles of life to dictate the direction we will allow are hearts to be positioned. We are so easily offended these days and can many times take a victims posture. Lets have a look at some of the struggles Paul faced.
Was put in prison over and over.
Was flogged an uncounted number of times.
Faced death over and over.
Received 39 lashes from the Jews five times.
Was beaten with a rod three times.
Was stoned one time.
Spent a day and night in the sea.
Was often weary and in pain, without sleep.
Was often hungry and thirsty, cold.
Was continually concerned about the health of all of the churches
Grumbling means to have a secret displeasure. Secret displeasures can be very dangerous. What happens when we do things in secret? We no longer allow the healthy perspectives of others to have influence in the areas we are struggling. Many times what happens is our flesh and emotions can distort the reality of the situation or the issue. Then we allow this issue to build and simmer. Secret displeasure many times turns into bitterness, and bitterness changes our hearts from being soft and malleable to hard and judgmental.
Disputing comes as the next step to grumbling, and what I find happens to me is that I have allowed myself to have this secret displeasure and have given it room to grow. I also have figured out who is on my side and who is not. I position myself to find those who agree with me, and then I begin to cast my outward displeasure with those I believe will take on my cause or disdain. Basically, I begin to build teams: home and away. What happens is I begin to separate not only my heart from a situation, but I begin to choose to physically separate myself from others.
What happens if we allow outward displeasure to go unchecked?
It can cause people to take on a negative bend with everything.
Rather than viewing people through the eyes of Christ, you view
them from the eyes of the world.
We can become addicted to grumbling. We start to become bored
without something to raise our adrenaline.
For some it has the potential to develop into full on anger and rage.
Some of us have never been taught that there is another way other than grumbling and disputing. It has been a way of life for as long as we can remember. There has been one hurtful thing after another that has confirmed this way of thinking.
I have had to make many choices to not grumble or dispute. I know this is super difficult, especially if its been a way of life for you and me. We really need to change some habits that may have been with us our entire lives. In Luke 9:23 Jesus tells us exactly what this looks like, If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. Jesus is asking and even wants to heal our psyche. He is asking for us to change the way we think. This in turn changes the way we think of Him. Due to this, we begin to understand that He has the desire to heal our minds and our insecurities. Paul is very clear in 2 Corinthians 10:5-6 when he says, We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. So essentially when we walk in the light in obedience, we can be set free from lifelong psychological bondages. These are choices that are made each time, over time when we have the opportunity to grumble or dispute.
In verse 15, Paul refers to us as being children of God and that we are the light of the world. The term lights of the world comes from the Greek, which means to be light givers. This means, someone who has received light and now is enabled to give light.
Matthew 5:14-16, You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Looking back, I have learned that these people were just loving and serving their God, and because of it He chose how to spend them. The Bible says, My cup overflows (Ps 23:5); now He didnt say when it overflows I let you keep what spills out. I believe what happens is that overflow touches others and many times we are unaware that its even happening. Because of this filling we may feel led to do something that at the time may seem insignificant, but to those around us it is touching them in a profound way. It is light giving! Lets reflect on Paul. He was so focused on serving God he may not have understood the significance of what he was doing, but I believe we are still reaping the overflow of his services today.
Hold steadfast to the Word of Life; read your Bible daily (v16).
Do not toil in vain; serve (vs16-17).
Rejoice and share your joy (v18).
What does this mean? Can we read the Bible, show up at church and act happy? Yes, we can. We can go through the motions and play the part because we should, but what if instead, we actually became sold-out like Paul? Paul was one man but yet has had such an impact on the world. What happened to Paul? What did he have that motivated him? He had a Jesus encounter, and he allowed that encounter to change his life, forever. Not only did he receive the Light of the World, but he became a light giver. He wasnt satisfied with just being saved, but rather he wanted to see all saved.