14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation,in which you shine like stars in the universe (NIV)
Commands like this are convicting, but also irritating. I cling to complaining and I almost default to arguing in most situations. Granted, I believe Paul is taking about fighting and contentions in the church, that seems to be the context as he instructs them to be humble as Christ (2:3-7)…but he is still banging my spiritual door to give me a certified load of “shut up every now and then”.
Conflicts, disagreement, problems, etc…he’s not saying they don’t need to be worked out, but he is saying that there is a humble way to do it, and a proud way. In fact, you may be able to tell the difference simply by the motivation and result: if I am more concerned with being “right” than with showing love then it’s probably based out of pride and Paul would go on to say that I am very similar to the twisted, crooked, and depraved world I claim to have separated from.
He says that when we are “blameless and pure” we “shine like stars in the universe”. Maybe he is envisioning the dark night sky and seeing the unmistakable evidence of more than the great nothingness of space. And then he sees the hopelessness of those who live without Jesus, they have nothing but complaints and arguments to validate their existence (regarding the deeper things of life, common grace allows for pleasure and some measure of peace when life is limited to shallowness). But what happens when we shine into that darkness with a life that finds more reason to care than complain, and more value in encouraging someone than in infuriating someone? Would that not become a beacon, an unmistakable and convincing proof that there is something more than the “nothingness”?
God help us to be those stars, those lights, those proofs, those sign-posts that scream out in the night: “THERE’S MORE!” Help us to walk the razor’s edge between complaining / arguing and defending truth in love with compassion. Jesus was able to uphold the standard of he Law without ever beating anyone down with it, and He is who we are to be conformed into the image of.