By Alistair Begg
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.
We all know people who light up a room when they enter it—men and women who possess qualities that make them compelling and attractive. They lift our spirits. For reasons we can’t always articulate, we enjoy being near them.
As Christians, we should strive to have a similar effect on those around us. This is not to say that we must try to morph into something that most of us are not and become the life of every party! Our endeavor as believers isn’t about personality, charisma, or a sense of humor. It’s about moral purity. This is what Jesus was getting at when He told His disciples that they were “the light of the world”: they were to live so that people would see their good works and glorify God (Matthew 5:14-16). This is also what Paul had in mind when he told his Philippian friends that they were to “shine as lights in the world” in the midst of “a crooked and twisted generation.” The character of Christian people, in other words, ought to be not only observable but also radiant.
As the people of God, we gather to worship the living God, to be edified by His word and strengthened in His grace—but not so that we might then go home and keep quiet! When the effect of our Christianity stops at the door of the church building, it is of little use to anyone. We step out from corporate worship into a world that is dark and confused in innumerable ways, and we should therefore step out with a determination that we will live in that world with bright, shining faithfulness.
In the ancient world, stars were used as navigational aids. People would walk outside, look up, and, by means of the heavens, determine their course. Paul wanted his readers to be as useful as the stars in the sky, becoming navigational aids for a world that doesn’t know which way to turn, pointing to the great lodestar of all of life: the one who made the stars.
In order to live this way, we must hold fast to the word of life as a light to our own path. Our own steps must be governed by God’s true and authoritative word. We must also hold forth this word of life. The good news of Jesus is contained in God’s word, and it is therefore His word that we should be ready to offer to our neighbors and friends, knowing that it will not return void (Isaiah 55:11). As stars shine forth light, so we are to hold out gospel life.
If we, by God’s grace, resist the temptations of grumbling, impurity, and selfishness, and if we, by God’s grace, live with joy, contentment, and hope, all the while holding on to God’s word, we will most assuredly shine for the good of our neighbors and the glory of God. You are called to shine in the darkness. Be sure to do so today.