For The Kingdom: Joy-Filled Living In Difficult Days | Day 37

“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

The ball is tipped and there you are
you’re running for your life, you’re a shooting star
And all the years, no one knows
just how hard you worked, but now it shows…

“One Shining Moment” (see the link at the bottom of this post) by David Barrett is the most anticipated and memorable song in sports.  Played at the end of every NCAA March Madness College Basketball tournament, it has become the anthem for capturing the glory of victory and the agony of defeat.  Every college basketball player dreams or being featured in the highlight video, every college basketball fan joyfully celebrates the conclusion of the season with this unforgettable bookend after the nets are cut down.

Often, when we thinks about shining, it is in the setting of our own glorious moments of triumph and success.  However, when God calls us to shine, it is so that HIS glory may be revealed.  Paul says in this passage that we as children of God should “shine as lights in the world.”

Imagine if God were to put together a “one shining moment” highlight reel to be played at the end of each of our lives.  It will not be our personal trophies and awards we will celebrate- it will be those moments we lived for God and His glory!  The Kingdom perspective on shining reminds us that our greatest moments will always be for God’s glory!

When Christ saves us, He replaces our DARKNESS with His LIGHT.  The light of the world has put His light inside of us, and He commands us to shine in the darkness.  Shining is the natural outworking our salvation. 

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

During March Madness, the goal is getting the ball in the basket.  For the believer, the goal is getting their light out from under the basket! Many believers are missing out on “shining moments” because their attitude is “throwing shade” on the light of Jesus in their life. Jesus is essentially telling us, His disciples, “Don’t throw shade on my light in your life.”  When you complain or argue, you “throw shade” on the light of Christ within you. 

Don’t throw shade on your light by complaining or arguing.
“Do all things without grumbling (complaining) or disputing (arguing.)” (v. 14)

When you watch the “One Shining Moment” highlight reel, what you don’t see is players sulking, complaining or whining.  Instead, you see incredible effort, encouragement, excitement and enthusiasm. As Christian’s, it is the same for us too.  Nobody wants to see Christians whining and complaining.  The word “complaining” literally means “the verbal expression of a bad attitude.”  If you have a bad attitude about something, it will be expressed by your complaints.  To do all things without grumbling (complaining) or questioning (arguing) is a parallel command with “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.”  We cannot “be glad and rejoice” (v. 18) if we are “complaining and arguing.” 

Several years ago, Saturday Night Live introduced a memorable character that captures the essence of this theme- “Debbie Downer.”  A “Debbie Downer” is a person who always sees the worst and complains about every situation.  A child, co-worker or friend who has a bad attitude and continually complains can really suck the life and joy out of any experience.  Complaining and arguing effectively diminish our light from shining.

Jesus says that we should not put our light under a basket, but rather on a stand for all to see.  The traditional way that we understand this metaphor is that we should not be ashamed of our relationship with Christ and hide it, but rather we should boldly proclaim our faith in Christ for all to see.  This is very true, however, there are different kinds of “baskets” that prevent us from shining and fear is just one of those baskets.  Another “basket” case is complaining and arguing.  When things are not going your way, remember that complaining and arguing-

1.  Throws Shade on your Character:  While it is a natural response to complain or argue when things do not go your way, it is never an attractive characteristic.  Nobody wants to be around a chronic complainer.  When you complain and argue, you are throwing shade on your own character and your own reputation.  You are not doing yourself or your future any favors!

“Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”– Dale Carnegie.

2. Throws Shade on the Church: A church consumed by complaints and arguing will eventually suffer two fates.  It will either become dead or divided.  More churches split over complaints and arguments than over theological issues or heresy.  The word church should not be synonymous with shallow, selfish people who can’t get along.  Any time we complain or argue, we throw shade on the body of Christ. 

3.  Throws Shade on Christ:  When an unbeliever sees Christians complaining or arguing, it gives them something to point to and say, “if that’s Christianity, then I don’t want any of that!”  Christ didn’t complain and argue, so neither should we.  Let’s be reminded Christ’s attitude in both life and death:

Christ’s attitude in the wilderness:  After 40 days without food and under direct spiritual attack from Satan, Jesus did not complain or argue, but rather appealed to the Scriptures at every turn.
Christ’s attitude in the garden of Gethsemane: Under intense stress and anxiety in anticipation of his death, He never complained or argued with God- He surrendered Himself to God’s will. 
Christ’s attitude on trial in front of Caesar: Jesus never complained that He was being treated unjustly.
Christ’s attitude on the cross: Jesus never argued with the thief who mocked Him or got angry with the crowd that cheered His death.  Instead, He said, “Father, forgive them.”

When we complain, we are throwing shade on Christ because we are living contrary to His attitude.

Warren Mainard

Complaining and arguing may be your natural response when things don’t go your way, but rejoicing and gladness must be your supernatural response!  The next time you find yourself tempted to complain, decide that you will not throw shade on your character, your church or the cross. Instead, let Christ’s light shine through your joyful response. 

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