Philippians 2:12-18 – [12] Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,  [13] for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. [14] Do all things without grumbling or questioning,  [15] 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,  [16] 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.  [17] 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.  [18] Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me. 

Doing Great Things for God

What a text of Scripture this is. God, through Paul, tells the Philippians, and us, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. He tells us that we can do this because God is working in us to will and to work for His good pleasure. We all want to walk worthy of our calling. What believer is there who doesn’t want to do something of significance, perhaps even something great, for God. “What great thing can we do for God?” we ask. And God replies in Philippians 2:14- “do everything without grumbling or questioning”. And we yell back “Is there anything ELSE we can do?” When we talk about doing great things for God is this what we think of? No. It is not. We think about miracles, conversions in the thousands, travelling the world and winning people to Jesus who have never heard of Him before, answering the riddles of the universe, standing up in the face of great persecution. Great things indeed – but not if they are done with grumbling and argument.

Doing everything without grumbling or questioning will give proof that you are children of God. That’s what verse 15 implies. Maybe this is why we gravitate to doing great exploits or hiding ourselves in ministry involvement. We can do those things and not have to prove that we are Christian at all.

Verse 15 says that doing without grumbling and complaining demonstrates us to be blameless and innocent. We are faced with a choice here. We can either stop our grumbling and complaining OR we can prove that we are children of God – but we cannot do both. 

In the Midst of a Crooked and Twisted Generation

Note the phrase – “in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation among whom you shine as lights in the world …” 

Matthew Henry put it this way –  “ When God raises up a good man in any place, he sets up a light in that place.” Dear ones, wherever you are, God has put you there as a light in the world. The question then becomes – where has God set us up?

Note the following things about what Paul says in this text about living as lights in a crooked and twisted generation.

a. Believers have always been called upon to live in the midst of great sin and unbelief. See the church at Pergamum in Revelation 2:13 – You think that was a Church Picnic? You think “righteous Lot” found it easy to live in Sodom? 

b. We simply do not have to live the way that others do. We dwell in the midst of crookedness and twistedness – but that does not mean that we have to be crooked and twisted. We simply cannot blame others for our lack of spirituality. It is not their fault. It is not the fault of forces from without  pounding their way into our innocent hearts and minds. It is a matter of us inviting them in. This is the story that the Scriptures repeatedly communicate to us.

c. All believers are called to shine as lights in the world. The business of witness is not restricted to preachers, missionaries, evangelists, … . 

d. In order to shine as lights there must be darkness. Our calling is not to hang around Christians all the time. It is to interact with the world in its sin and darkness and debauchery and live better. Do you work with liars? Be a person of truth. Do you have to listen to filthy language all the time? Speak with the golden tongue of the elevated saints of God. We think it is so cool to have the freedom to be as vulgar with our language as the rest of the world. No – do better than that.

e. Remember the purpose of shining as lights – Matthew 5:14-16 – “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  [15] 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.  [16] 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. Now – does the way you do your work, interact with your workmates, your school mates, your husband, wife children, parents – cause others to glorify your Father who is in heaven? And even if they do not – should they be able to from the way that you behave? 

f. There are two ways in which we sin in relation to this matter
     (1) becoming so much like the world that there is no difference between us and             them
     (2) isolating ourselves so much that we never integrate with the culture at all. 

g. Christians are not to isolate themselves from the world. We cannot be salt and light if we never interact with the world. The world will not become a part of our church life. We must become a part of theirs without becoming contaminated by it. This is not an option. This is our calling. Church programs are not meant to be replacements for the same type of programs that the world has only with a Christian twist. They are meant to help us shine as lights in the world. They are not meant to keep us so busy that we never interact with the world. They are not meant to replace friendships with non believers, … … . they are meant to help us remain faithful in those relationships so that we shine as lights in the world when we are in it. They are meant to help us remain not conformed to this world but transformed from it by the renewing of our minds. Our calling is to live “in the midst”. 

And they are to do it without grumbling and complaining.