Friday, February 11, 2011

All Things

I think one of the hardest commands in scripture is found in Philippians 2:14-16 shown below in the Amplified Bible, Message and ESV.  Unfortunately, all the versions say the same thing:  do all things without complaining.

    14Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining [against God] and questioning and doubting [among yourselves],
    15That you may show yourselves to be blameless and guiltless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish (faultless, unrebukable) in the midst of a crooked and wicked generation [spiritually perverted and perverse], among whom you are seen as bright lights (stars or beacons shining out clearly) in the [dark] world,
    16Holding out [to it] and offering [to all men] the Word of Life, so that in the day of Christ I may have something of which exultantly to rejoice and glory in that I did not run my race in vain or spend my labor to no purpose.  [Amplified Bible]

  14-16Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I'll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You'll be living proof that I didn't go to all this work for nothing.  [Message]

14Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15that 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, 16holding 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.  [ESV]

I don't see how this could be even remotely possible without the verses on either side:
v. 13  ... for it is God
v. 16  holding fast to the word of life

To the extent we do this we are really "shining as stars" -- this is so different from our culture and our nature.  If you pay attention to your words it is amazing how much we (I) complain about everything.  Not complaining would be so counter culture and so faith enabled.  To not complain we have to choose to believe that God has allowed whatever we would complain about and take hold of His promises that He loves us, He will never leave us, He is working in our world to show His glory and that He is able to make things work for good.

I don't want to be like the "crooked and twisted generation" described in Deuteronomy 32 who didn't believe God

4 "The Rock, his work is perfect,
   for all his ways are justice.
A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,
   just and upright is he.
5They have dealt corruptly with him;
   they are no longer his children because they are blemished;
   they are a crooked and twisted generation.
6Do you thus repay the LORD,
   you foolish and senseless people?
Is not he your father, who created you,
   who made you and established you?
 Instead, I want to be like Joshua and Caleb (in Numbers 14) and not rebel and not fear:

8If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. 9Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them." 10 Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones. But the glory of the LORD appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel.