Key text: “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” – Phil 2:14-15
We live in a society that demands us to be good people who do good things. And of course God also wants us to be that kind of people. But sometimes we might feel that we are forced to do something good against our will. For example, my mother asked me to sweep and mop the floor when I’d rather take a nap. I didn’t want to disobey her, but I didn’t really want to do it either. So, I did it anyway while grumbling in my heart all the way through. Sounds familiar?
It is our fallen human nature’s tendency to be selfish and do what we please (Eph 2:2-3; Gal 5:19-21). This tendency makes it difficult for us to do good things willingly with a happy heart. Difficult, but it’s not impossible.
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil 4:13). “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). Christ is the key for us to overcome our human nature. He is the only one who can change us into a true good person who do good things with a happy heart.
But, why is it not enough to just do good things? Why can’t we murmur in our hearts? I mean, I know God knows everything inside my heart, but it won’t affect anyone, right?
Nope. The reason lies in verse 15, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”
I’m sure we all wants to be called the sons of God. But this is not just about our relationship with God. It is something more than that. God wants us to “shine as lights in the world”. It is also written, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt 5:16).
According to these two verses, shine = good works + without murmurings and disputings. And the purpose of shining is so that people will “glorify your Father which is in heaven”. Glorify God. Aren’t those words familiar, especially for Seventh-Day Adventists?
Seventh-Day Adventists identify the message in Revelation 14 as the Three Angels’ Message – God’s message to the world before Christ’s second coming. And the 1st angel’s message is “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of water” (Rev 14:7).
So, by shining – doing good works without murmurings and disputings – we are actually proclaiming the Three Angels’ Message. This message is not just to be preached in pulpits, but it is to be preached in our daily lives as well. And by God’s grace, we can preach it to everyone we come in contact with every day.