And do ye all things without grumblings and doubtings; [Forsooth do ye all things without grutchings and doubtings;] that ye be without plaint, and simple as the sons of God, without reproof, in the middle of a depraved nation [in the middle of a shrewd nation] and a wayward; among which ye shine as givers of light in the world [among whom ye shine as givers of light in the world;]. And hold ye together the word of life to my glory in the day of Christ; for I have not run in vain, neither I have travailed in vain. [holding together the word of life to my glory in the day of Christ; for I have not run in vain, neither in vain travailed.]Philippians 2:14-16WYC
What are the enemies of a simple, reproof-free Christian life? Grumblings (or grutchings) and doubtings, if you read Paul. I imagine Paul bemoans the critical soul who wrings his hands and shakes his head at the world as it rushes by in its waywardness and depravity. I see Paul weeping over the Ebenezer Scrooges of the Christian world who bah-humbug their way through the Christian life. Paul does not wish to run his own race in vain. He desires the Christians he leads to “shine as givers of light in the world.” He wishes Christians to “hold…together the Word of Life” to his “glory in the day of Christ.”
Paul doesn’t say, “Do some things without grumblings and doubtings.” Rather he says to do all things with joy and faith which come of knowing the Lord. Then, and only then, will we shine as givers of light to the world.
One of the most difficult aspects of the Christian walk is refraining from judging others. Paul states that he does not even judge himself; he puts that ‘on hold’ until the coming of the Lord Jesus at which time all men are to be judged by the One True Judge, even God Himself. Until then, we are called to “judge not” by Jesus Christ and by His apostle, Paul.
Paul challenges us to recognize that we are not qualified to judge ourselves or one another. “For when [we] judge another, [we] condemn [ourselves], since [we], the judges, do the same things.” When we set up ourselves as judges, we are actually judging the Law and the Lawgiver, who is God. Who are we to judge the law and the One True Judge?
“You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?” (Romans 2: 23) If you claim that you do not break the law and so you are qualified to judge others, you are both lying to yourself and to God. (1 John 1: 8)
“Now we know that whatever the law says speaks to those who are subject to the law, so that every mouth may be shut and the whole world may be subject to God’s judgment. For no one is justified in His sight by the works of the law, because the knowledge of sin comes through the law.” (Romans 3: 19 – 20)
Recognize sin in yourselves — and of course in others — but realize that Jesus died so that we are not judged or judging, but are rather set free from the law of sin and death.
“The one who loves his brother remains in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.” (1 John 2: 10)
Paul tells us to “be strengthened by the Lord.” Our strength is not our own, but comes from “His vast strength.” We are to “put on the full armor of God” in order to withstand “the tactics of the Devil.”
This armor is to be taken up, carried; and consists of: truth, righteousness, readiness for the gospel, faith, salvation, the Word of God — and is sustained through prayer in God the Holy Spirit.
God sustains us; He strengthens us and enables us to stand. Through Him, we persevere.
The Christian walk is akin to a marriage, says Paul. We are Christ’s bride, and He is our husband. As husband, Christ loves His wife, the church, the body of believers. He keeps His bride safe. He enables her to stand victorious. If she falls, He picks her up in His mighty arms and washes her face; He cleans her, and sets her on her feet once again. If she should fall again, again He rights her. He has a love for her that no one fully comprehends. After all, He died for her. Why should He leave her? Never! She belongs to Him, for He paid an enormous price to call her His own. She is His, and His alone.
“Chris loves the church and gives Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the Word. He does this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5: 25 – 27)
Jesus tells us He is the bread of life and that as we believe in Him, so we will live eternally, raised up with and by Him on the last day. He also tells us that as we “follow [Him], [we] will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
“Come, follow Me,” Jesus says to His disciples. We believe and we follow.
In darkness, it’s hard to see. True, eventually, the eyes adjust and sight is easier. But what is seen is vague and the truth is not easily perceived. In light, all is visible. Everything is clear.
Life is hard enough as it is; why walk through it in the dark?
What is clearer than Paul’s extraordinary statement of truth — that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.”
That faith itself is a gift of God is clear — yet is also one of the stumbling blocks of the Christian walk. The concept that God gives us our faith in His Son causes great consternation. How is it that God gives us this gift? Why does He give it to some, but not to others? How is this fair? Paul asks and answers these questions in his letters to the Romans.
“No one can boast.”
This is ultimately the truth we should find in the Word of God. No one is able to stand in the presence of God unless God Himself has willed it. Job’s friends try to discover Job’s secret sin, the cause of all his suffering. Job continues to protest that he is righteous and has done no wrong. In the end, God challenges Job to explain the universe and to recognize that God has every right to do with His creation whatever He wishes.
God is the potter; we are the clay.
“No one can boast.”
In the end, Job repents in dust and ashes.
Paul adds, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2: 10)
Not only has God created us, given us faith in His Son; but He has also created the good works we are to do while we are alive on this earth. God has a plan, like any exceptional craftsman. He knows His work; He has an end result in His creative mind.