It’s easy to get down. When things go wrong, especially when there is a series of them, becoming negative is something we often have to fight against with great might, some of us more so than others. As Christians we’re not immune to this, as our emotions can often take control and we find ourselves sad, discouraged, even angry. I can very clearly think of a situation last week where I allowed myself to get down and I reacted badly as a result. However, as Christians we are reminded to be more level-headed, to be more positive. That reminder comes through Paul, who certainly had every right to be discouraged. However, Paul’s words are a reflection that though life may conspire against us, we must remain more positive, due to the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
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, 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. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me. – Philippians 2:14-18, ESV
If you’re like me, you made it to the end of that first phrase, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing,” and thought, “Well, I failed that test.” However, what Paul tells us to be like is how God would desire us to be. Think about it from this perspective… which person do you think would be a better source of wisdom and advice, the one who is tossed around with every rise and fall of life or the one who is able to maintain a pleasant, even-keeled attitude even when the unthinkable happens? Our disposition definitely affects our witness. That’s why Paul says we are to “shine as lights in the world.”
However, we all know folks who are able to present a false front of happiness and joy though they are miserable inside. This is deceitful. Our God doesn’t tolerate deceit. He is truth. And thus He doesn’t want us miserable on the inside presenting a facade of things being okay on the outside. Rather, He reminds us in multiple places in Scripture that what is inside is what will eventually come out. Therefore, we must seek to be positive on the inside. We must put aside grumbling and disputing. Paul was given the knowledge of how to do this. We are to hold fast to the “word of life.” Our salvation through Christ Jesus can sustain us, if we allow it. The knowledge of whatever happens in this world cannot impact our eternal destination once we are in Christ can help us find and keep this positive state, this one where we are filled with joy so that it is evident to those around us. In other words, we need to stop focusing so much on the ups and downs that come and go and instead turn our focus onto what Christ has done for us, a gift that lasts forever.
I know, it is easier said than done. I’m sure there were days and times when Paul struggled. He has told us so in other places in Scripture. However, Paul realized that the state he needed to get to, the state he needed to maintain, was one of gladness and joy in Christ Jesus. As a result, he called us to the same state, he offered an invitation to join him in it. Let us do just that, rejoicing in the salvation we have through our Lord and sharing in joy and gladness to the world around us what He has done for us.