"Do everything without complaining or arguing,
Last night I drifted off with the sound of frogs singing in the soft rain. A peace settles over your soul when those little amphibians voice their contentment. Like the sound of cicada's in the sun, a robin at dawn, ibises at dusk. I would list children's laughter amongst these, but at the moment mine are creating such a din, that it would not seem sincere... After a rich time with family, we returned home feeling strangely lost, but also with a new appreciation for the beauty of the land and the authenticity of a simple lifestyle. It was easy to be content when wrapped in family love, lavished on and surrounded by constant entertainment and distractions. Faced with the daily routine of a mother and housewife, irritation started tugging at the edges, regardless of the fabulous view and gentle mountain breezes.
Last night my small son pointed out the evening star to me, and I was suddenly made aware of it's lustre. Regardless of the fact that this is all it gets to do. Shine. It was placed in the dome of our night-sky along with millions of other stars, just doing what they were made to do. Shine. So how about you and me?
We, who have the privilege of being saved in Christ, have the same purpose - to shine. When I came across Paul's words to the Philippians, I noticed that he does not say - in which you should or can shine like stars in the universe. It just says: "In which you shine".
Often, God's way seems so upside down. In a performance based society, we have come to expect and believe that nothing comes from nothing. But this is the "scandal of grace". If we truly believe that Christ has done it all at the cross, there is nothing we can bring to the table that will add to who we are or ultimately to who He is. At the true realisation of the enormity of this gift, lives are changed, hearts are altered and we become blameless and pure, regardless of the state of sin in the world.
But, we do not become perfect, that is why Paul says: "Do everything without complaining or arguing" - knowing full well how easy we can be deceived to expect that as Christians we should be given a free ticket to a life of blessings and "prosperity". Especially so, if we do a certain amount of "good deeds" each day. What if I could succeed, with Christ to "do everything without complaining or arguing", even when the going gets tough, or the tasks seem mundane and without reward? Not as a suffering martyr, but as a joyful child of God - would this not speak louder than all my attempts to do good and to "shine"?
Even the most noble cause is of no use to the Kingdom of God if the attention is drawn to the earthly benefactor rather than the Giver of life and grace itself. I take heart from the knowledge that in a back to front society, there is One who searches the hearts of man, and honours the gentle labour of love for Him in silence. The noisy gongs or clanging cymbals of those who serve without love for Him, do not honour or fool the Maker of the Universe.