You will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Philippians 2:15–16
I can close my eyes and go back in time to the house where I grew up. I remember stargazing with my father. We took turns squinting through his telescope, trying to focus on glowing dots that shimmered and winked. These pinpricks of light, born of heat and fire, stood out in sharp contrast to the smooth, ink-black sky.
Do you consider yourself to be a shining star? I’m not talking about reaching the heights of human achievement, but standing out against a dark background of brokenness and evil. The apostle Paul told the Philippian believers that God would shine in and through them as they held “firmly to the word of life” and avoided grumbling and arguing (Philippians 2:14–16).
Our unity with other believers and our faithfulness to God can set us apart from the world. The problem is that these things don’t come naturally. We constantly strive to overcome temptation so we can maintain a close relationship with God. We wrestle against selfishness to have harmony with our spiritual brothers and sisters.
But still, there’s hope. Alive in each believer, God’s Spirit empowers us to be self-controlled, kind, and faithful (Galatians 5:22–23). Just as we are called to live beyond our natural capacity, God’s supernatural help makes this possible (Philippians 2:13). If every believer became a “shining star” through the power of the Spirit, just imagine how the light of God would repel the darkness around us!
What causes your light for Jesus to dim? What do you need to do to brighten it?
Loving God, I ask Your Spirit to empower me to shine in the darkness. Make me into someone who is known for my love of others and my faithfulness to You.
Paul instructs the Philippian believers in Christ to “work out [their] salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). The phrase “fear and trembling” is found in the New Testament only in Paul’s writings (see 1 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 7:15; Ephesians 6:5). The apostle isn’t suggesting that the believers at Philippi should be afraid of the outcome of their salvation. Rather, “fear and trembling” is the response to the divine glory. Philippians 2:12 begins with the word therefore, which connects the command to work out salvation with fear and trembling to what precedes—the exaltation of Christ in the heavenly realms (vv. 9–11). We work out our salvation in awe and reverence of the exalted Christ.