Yet this isn’t the whole picture. In verse fifteen, Paul goes on to tell us why we shouldn’t behave this way. He says that when we don’t grumble or dispute with others we prove ourselves to be children of God “above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.” A more accurate translation for the phrase “appear as lights in the world” is to “shine like stars.”
I don’t know about you, but I would much rather shine like a star than to be known as the person who continually has a case of the grumpies. Before I became sick, it was easy enough to be happy all the time. In fact, in high school my friends often referred to me as Tigger from Winnie the Pooh because I was so happy I practically bounced when I walked. But suffering and pain have a way of taking the joy out of life. On those days when it’s difficult to even lift your feet to walk to the kitchen, happiness is rarely the first thought in a person’s mind. When speaking becomes hard because of the pain one’s in, most people are not thinking about not grumbling about his or her situation. In fact, the tendency and natural inclination is to complain about how one feels, how his day has gone, and his life in general. Yet the problem I’ve found is that with a chronic illness, most days are judged by the amount and severity of pain one is in and not in the lack thereof. Because of this, when a person who’s suffering chooses to allow himself a time to grumble, it can quickly turn into habit, and then a lifestyle.
Now this doesn’t mean we are sinning when we become frustrated or upset about something we are facing. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have people with whom we can be completely honest. We are still human and none of us are perfect, and these feelings are only natural. But the majority of us struggle to find a balance between being grumpy all the time or pretending to be happy, which in my personal opinion, is just as bad because a person like this is fake. For a long time, I struggled finding a happy medium between the two. What I’ve found is that with Christ, I can be completely honest about my frustrations, anger, hurt, and pain. When I do this, I am able to be completely honest about how I feel without unloading on someone. The great thing about talking to God is that He can replace my fears, doubts, and worries with His joy and peace, and when that happens, I can then shine like a star.
What about you? If you were a cartoon character who would you be? Do people consider you to be Grumpy or Oscar the Grouch, or are you more like a Tigger or Elmo? Can you honestly say that God has taught you to shine like the star He created you to be? We have one life to live; let’s choose to be stars rather than someone suffering with a case of the grumpies.
“You are light for the world. A city cannot be hidden when it is located on a hill. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket. Instead, everyone who lights a lamp puts it on a lamp stand. Then its light shines on everyone in the house. In the same way let your light shine in front of people. Then they will see the good that you do and praise your Father in heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:14-16 (GW)
(c) September 13, 2012