Friday, March 06, 2009

How to Be Distinctive

The sermon at our church last Sunday touched upon Philippians 2:12-16. Lots of good points were made but the one that got my attention focused on verses 14-15:

"Do everything without complaining or arguing, 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 "

Do you want to be distinctive as a Christian in the workplace? Would you like to shine in a dark and confused world? Simple - don't grumble or complain or be argumentative.

This verse is striking because of what it doesn't prescribe as a path to being distinctive. For instance, it doesn't cover the really "serious" sins -"don't commit adultery" or "don't murder". It doesn't suggest that the path to shining in a dark world is to " end world hunger" or "fight poverty" or even "reshape your culture" - all worthwhile pursuits.

Instead, here's what we get from the apostle Paul - "do everything without complaining or arguing". It's simple, mundane but it's right where we live everyday. If you believe this verse, just doing our daily work without complaining is precisely what can make us stand out as a people called by God.

That's because "not complaining" takes a trust in God. Consider this - how can we preserve peace in our hearts when things don't go our way or when we don't get what we want? We live in peace and maintain hearts of joy by trusting God. We remind ourselves that He is supremely in control of the situation, yet in accordance with Rom 8:28, He has our best interests at heart.

Just doing whatever we're called to do without complaining or being argumentative - that's how we shine.


mark said...

Could all submitting comments also propose application level strategies to combat the onslaught of the world with respect to complaining?

Indeed, I have found this to be the case. Those individuals who unfailingly respond with cooperation and support stand in contrast to those who complain.
When we receive our employment authorities as the selected means with which God will press from us all that displeases Him, we will also find His strength to obey His discipline. Taking notice of His "present help" to be formed in His likeness inspires thanksgiving.

In addition, as we abide and abide with joy in our marriage roles we will lose the taste for complaining. There emerges a taste for a sweetness in relationship with our spouse that we value more than some particular circumstance. This sweetness comes directly from experiencing life through similarity to Christ and His church, and we can carry this sweetness in all our labors throughout the day- even traffic. When we complain, we contemptfully, without self-control, judge a circumstance, having allowed our experience of the circumstance to be our authority dragging us around. Reasonably, we dislike this arrangement because we were made to be ruled by God, not our circumstance. But due to the same weakness, rather than praise and thanksgiving being offered to God, we complain at or to each other. How can we expect anything other than complaining to result if we habitually condition ourselves into passive roles, lifestyles, etc?

Maalie said...

>don't grumble or complain or be argumentative.

So you think that God would condone abusive and exploitive employers if we are not to complain in the work-place? He would object to the work of Trades Unions?

Every Square Inch said...

mark - like you, I'd like to hear from others how you combat complaining in your own life. Thanks for sharing your experiences

maalie - good question. No, I don't condone abusive employers - in fact, my daughter just mention to me how she's concerned about how child labor in Indonesia is fueled by the purchasing habits of American teen at Abercrombie & Fitch and other such stores. I think it's entirely appropriate and in fact, a Christian response to challenge those kinds of abuses.

Sam Van Eman said...

Nice post, ESI.

I hear Maalie's question, but there's a difference between fighting for justice and general complaining.

The former is constructive and forward-thinking; the latter is debilitating and self-indulgent.

And as far as witness is concerned, general complaining - versus adultery or murder - is testimonial death by a thousand cuts.

Every Square Inch said...

Sam - you made an excellent distinction much better than I could. Thanks for highlighting the difference between the kind of day to day complaining and the kind of protest linked to social justice.

Sam Van Eman said...

You're welcome, but props to Maalie for sparking my thoughts.