Thursday, October 18, 2007

Philippians 2:14-18


14Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. 17But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. 18You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.

While working out your own salvation as God is already at work in you for the willing and the doing of His good work, you must be careful not to get caught up into murmurings and disputings. Murmurings remind me of the grumbling of the children of Israel against God and Moses when wandering through the wilderness. Murmurings is a moral rebellion against God. Disputings is an intellectual rebellion against God and His leadership. These two issues mentioned here aren't so rare within a fellowship of believers. Unfortunately this kind of thing is most common and so hurtful and disruptive within the fellowship.

I have served as senior pastor of three churches over a 27 year period-from as small as 400 people to as large as 10,000 and the same is true at all levels. There is a constant murmuring and complaining within most fellowships which is a perpetual simmering of negativity which can only serve evil purposes. These little seemingly "harmless" actions can cause major damage.

So, we are urged to refrain from murmurings and disputings, and if we do, we will prove ourselves to be 4 things:

1. You will prove to be blameless and innocent-not being a target for criticism.

2. You will prove to be children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.

3. You will prove yourself able to appear as lights in this world of darkness

4. You will prove to be able to hold fast the word of life.

Think of it. All of this-blameless, innocent, above reproach (counteracting a crooked and perverse generation), shining as lights in the world of darkness, and being able to hold fast the word of life-is all greatly affected by your murmurings and disputings.

Over the years I've heard the murmurings and disputings of one person for over 30 years. He has followed me in every ministry I've endeavored. He has relentlessly shown up to nearly every good thing I've endeavored to accomplish. I can't seem to get rid of him! His name is ANONYMOUS. He sends me notes and emails, always complaining about something or arguing with me over something I did or said. I used to listen to him and his messages dragged me down. I've changed my tactics in handling the ANONYMOUS notes and emails. I read them, consider the truth contained within them and then I pray that God will either change their hearts or move them along to bother another ministry.

BUT ON THE OTHER HAND, those believers in the fellowship of Jesus who DO NOT murmur and complain are responsible for a most wonderful testimony of God's grace in this unfair world and His light in this frightening world of darkness. So, is the application here to WATCH YOUR MOUTH AND MIND? No, I think the application of this passage is to WATCH YOUR HEART.

To me, those who are caught up in the snipping and sniping within the fellowship are dealing with the things that just don't matter in comparison with the joy we can share now and when Christ returns. This is what is being said here by Paul and Timothy-IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER, SO SHUT IT UP AND SHUT IT DOWN!

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