Have you stepped out into the dark night recently to look up at the stars in the sky? What did you notice about those stars?
Did some twinkle?
Did some shine brighter than others?
Did you find yourself captivated by the magnificence of the night sky?
In Philippians 2:15, Paul likens believers to stars that shine in the universe. I love this analogy because looking at the night sky evokes wonder in us. Peace and calm fall upon us as we stand in the stillness of the night with our necks tilted skyward. There’s a grounding that comes from gazing upon those shimmering spheres.
Aren’t all those same things true when we gaze upon Jesus?
If we are to be ambassadors of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:20), then we should reflect Him so that when people look upon us, we shine like Jesus shines – embodying peace, wonder, gratitude, selflessness and more.
While we are sinners and will never do this perfectly, we still strive for it in an effort to demonstrate our love for Jesus. But how? How do we shine like stars in the universe? Paul outlines three specific ways in which we can be that shining light in Philippians 2:12-18.
In verses 12 and 13 Paul encourages the Philippians to continue acting in obedience. This is what is meant by the phrase “work out your salvation.” That phrase can be confusing; it almost seems as if its referencing earning your salvation through works, but that’s not the case. Notice Paul says, “work out your salvation,” not “work for your salvation.”
The outworking of our faith and salvation in Jesus will be shown through our fruit. Demonstrating love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control will be a demonstration of us working out our salvation. This is all done through obedience.
2. Not complaining or arguing
How prevalent is the habit of complaining in our world? We complain about everything ranging from the weather to the service we got at a restaurant to circumstances in our life. Paul makes a clear and concise command here: do everything without complaining.
The second part of that command is just as stark: do everything without arguing. Arguing can create a visual image of a screaming match; and while that very well falls under this category of arguing, it’s not exclusive to that. That word arguing can also mean “dispute.” Have you ever grumbled over an assignment you got a work or at responsibility you were given in a volunteer position? Speaking against such things is also included in this command.
3. Hold out the Word of Life
The final way in which we can shine like stars in the universe is to hold out the gospel (the Word of Life). In the Greek that phrase “hold out” means to “hold forth.” Therefore, we are to offer the gospel to everyone around us. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and we want to endlessly offer Him to all we know.
When our lives are defined by obedience, our speech void of arguing and complaining while offering Jesus to others, that is when we will stand out from the rest of the world – much like stars in the universe.