Shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Philippians 2:15–16
“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” is an English lullaby. Its lyrics, originally a poem by Jane Taylor, capture the wonder of God’s universe where stars hang “up above the world so high.” In the rarely published later stanzas, the star acts as a guide: “As your bright and tiny spark lights the traveler in the dark.”
In Philippians, Paul challenges believers in Philippi to be blameless and pure as they “shine . . . like stars in the sky” while offering the good news of the gospel to all around them (2:15–16). We wonder how we can shine like stars. We often feel inadequate and struggle to think our “light” is bright enough to make a difference. But stars don’t try to be stars. They just are. Light changes our world. And it changes us. God brought physical light into our world (Genesis 1:3); and through Jesus, God brings spiritual light into our lives (John 1:1–4).
We who have God’s light in us are to shine in such a way that those around us see light and are drawn to its source. As effortlessly as a star hanging in the night sky, our light makes a difference because of what it is: Light! When we simply shine, we follow Paul’s directive to “hold firmly to the word of life” in a world in deep darkness, and we draw others to the source of our hope: Jesus.
Dear God, may Your light shine out of the very cracks of our beings as we hold out the Word of life to others.
Paul’s words here—“Do everything without grumbling or arguing” (Philippians 2:14)—remind us of the Israelites during the Exodus. Soon after the people had experienced their miraculous deliverance from slavery, they “grumbled against Moses and Aaron” (Exodus 16:2). They even said, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt!” (v. 3). God hated their murmuring. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he alludes to that generation of Israelites: “Do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel” (1 Corinthians 10:10).
We’re all prone to complain; it’s the norm in this world. That’s why doing things “without grumbling or arguing” (Philippians 2:14) will set us apart in this world. When we live our lives in grateful obedience to God, we will shine “like stars in the sky” (v. 15). Our quiet and humble service will stand in stark contrast to the dissatisfied world around us. Living a quiet and peaceable life of gratitude is the real countercultural movement.
Do people avoid us because we’re always complaining? Or are they drawn to Christ because they sense His Spirit working in us to give us a grateful heart?