Shining Like Stars In The Universe: Philippians Series #14
The Bible abounds in figures of speech, that is, beautiful pictures. In these particular verses, the Bible provides us with lovely images describing the Christian life and what the Christian life encompasses.
In our scriptural passage for this chapter, there are many beautiful figures of speech and pictures about the Christian life. In Philippians 2:15, we learn that we are the sons of God. The Christian life is pictured as being a child in God’s family. When you are born again, you become a member of the family of God.
In Philippines 2:17, the Christian life is compared to a sacrifice on the altar. In Romans 12:1, we read, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice.” The Christian life is to be like a sacrifice laid on the altar.
There is another beautiful picture that Christians are supposed to be. We are to “shine like lights in the world.” The New International Version states, “shine like stars in the universe.” The focus is luminaries.
We know that when God created the sun, the moon, and the stars; He said that they were intended to give light on the earth. The Christian life is intended to be like a star in the universe, like a luminary. We are to bring light to our world. When we enter a room, it should be a little brighter!
Jesus used that same figure of speech, talking about Himself. He said, in John 9:5, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When Jesus came into the world, the light was shining. The world saw the light like it had never seen the light before. No wonder the demons were revealed everywhere He traveled. While Jesus was here, He was the light of the world. Now, He said that I’ve gone back to heaven and while I’m in heaven, your responsibility is to be the light of the world.
I write this chapter to inspire you to be like stars in the universe, like diamonds radiating on a black silk canvas. I believe the qualities of being like “stars in the universe,” will challenge you to shine like never before.
I. Our Light Enlightens Everyone
The first quality I want to share with you about light is simply that light shines. It is the nature of light to shine. Paul says, “Among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” In verses 14 and 15, he gives us some things that hinder our light and some things that help our light. In verse 14, we read, “Do all things without grumbling and disputing.” Those are the kinds of things that hinder our light.
As Paul writes this book, throughout the book he sprinkles the great thought of joy and rejoicing. They were his joy and his crown. But I have reminded you that as great a church that it was, it was not a perfect church.
Paul is writing to the church at Philippi, and evidently there are some problems beginning to emerge. He will deal specifically with those problems in chapter 4, but what he is trying to do right now is cut those problems at the roots. There was some grumbling and disputing that was beginning to move among the congregation. Those kinds of things are the kinds of things that will hinder the light from shining the way it is intended to shine.
When we think about light today, we think about electrical kinds of lighting. You have to put yourself back into the New Testament era to get the full picture. In those days, light was created from oils and those kinds of fuels. In the tabernacle and later in the Temple, there was a lamp stand and it was fueled by oil. There would be a wick in that oil, and they would light the wick and it would begin to shine. But if some impurities got into that wick, you had to trim those impurities out because the smoke of that would cause the light to be diminished.
He is talking about some elements that hinder the light and keep a church from being the light for Jesus it should be. We must not allow our individual testimony from being diminished or dimmed from what God wants it to be. We are to “do all things without grumbling and disputing.”
The Greek word for “grumbling” was used to describe the cooing of doves. It’s kind of an undercurrent. The picture of the word, the very sound of the word, gave you the meaning of the word. It is kind of a low-grade mumbling, a behind-the-scenes grumbling.
Parents know what this word sounds like. Maybe you have told your child to go into the room and study, and they want to go outside and play. They are inside their room, and you hear a bunch of grumbling going on. You say, “What did you say in there?” “Nothing. I didn’t say anything.” You hear a humming sound from them.
That’s the meaning of the word. It’s a low-grade grumbling. It’s a behind-the-scenes murmuring. It was used by the children of Israel in the Old Testament. The children of Israel came out of Egypt. They were redeemed by the blood of the lamb. They crossed over the Red Sea on dry ground. They were hardly into the wilderness experience before they began grumbling. They complained and they grumbled and they mumbled, against the Lord. It hindered them.
Evidently, Paul is beginning to face some murmuring that is going on behind the scenes. He said, “Do all things without grumbling.”
Then, he used that word “disputing”. That’s open complaints. It all starts with grumbling on the inside, and it continues with disputing or complaining on the outside. This lifestyle is deadly in the fellowship of a church. Don’t join the ranks of the grumblers and the complainers.
Since we are children of God who are saved and redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, we have every reason to be a joyful, happy believer. We must not become one of the mumblers and grumblers in the congregation. It’s deadly to the testimony of a church and your individual life.
I heard about one wife who said to her husband, “You told me that when you married me you would be humbly grateful. Now you have become grumbly hateful.” Don’t be an old grumbler and complainer. It hinders the light. God wants us to be joyful. We have so much to be thankful for. We have so much to love Jesus for. “Do all things without murmuring or complaining.”
Then, in Philippians 2:15, Paul writes about the elements that help the light. He says, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, children of God, without rebuke.” Look at those three phrases: blameless and harmless, without rebuke. Those things help the light to shine.
The word “blameless” does not mean sinless, but it means nothing to find fault with. It means our testimony before a lost world. It means what lost people see when they see us. You are being watched by a lost world. Your testimony is being observed by those who look at you and know that you are a Christian.
There should be nothing in your life that would cause people to point to you and blame. There should be nothing in your life that would hinder your testimony on the job or at school or wherever you are. Your attitudes, your conduct, the words you say, and the kind of life you live should be blameless before lost people.
Then, he uses the word “harmless”. The word harmless was used in the New Testament day of undiluted wine, or it was used of unalloyed metal, no impurities. We are to have nothing in our lives that would be less than pure or less than sincere. Can you say that I am harmless in my life, that is, what you are in your own sight?
Then, he talks about being without “rebuke.” He means, “nothing that God could rebuke.” It is what you are in the eyes of God. If that’s the kind of life we are living, then our light will be like stars in the universe.
II. Our Light Expands Everywhere
One of the great qualities of light is it expands. “Let your light so shine before men.” Light shares itself.
We Are To Overcome Darkness
There are two ways in these verses of scripture that light shares itself. It shares itself first of all by overcoming darkness. He says in verse 15, “In the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as stars in the universe.” Light shares itself by overcoming the darkness. We shine as lights in a crooked and perverse world.
Light overcomes the darkness. The best way to get rid of the darkness is to shine the light. God wants us to shine. Light shares itself by shining in a dark place.
You have that night light in your bedroom. The purpose of that night light in the bedroom is to give light. It’s to dispel the darkness so you can make your way in the room. There’s a lighthouse. The purpose of the light is to overcome the darkness around it so that the ships can come into the port safely.
You and I are living in a dark world. The Bible says in II Peter 1:19, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy, unto which ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place.”
We are living in a better world scientifically and technologically. However, we are not living in a better world morally and spiritually. We are living in a world that is crooked and perverse. It is a crooked world we are living in, darkened by its crookedness. It is not straight.
Think about the kind of thinking of this world. It’s not straight thinking. I’m astonished sometimes at the logic or lack of logic that people use. I am writing this with all due respect, but it just seems to me that the thinking of the world in which we live is crooked thinking. The lifestyle of people in this world is a crooked lifestyle. But you and I are to be lights in this world. We are to share our light with this world. You and I are called upon to live a straight life in a crooked world. We are to be like stars in the universe. Can you imagine how dark the universe would be without the stars?
The word says that it is a perverse world. The word “perverse” means to be twisted or to be distorted. Are we ever living in a twisted and distorted world? Think about how they have twisted music. What I would call absolute discord and noise, people make millions of dollars to sing. They call it music and art. What some people call art is nothing more than monkeys scratching on a piece of canvas.
Think about literature. The more filth, and the more profanity, and the more vulgarity you can put on the pages of a book will cause it to sell millions. The world calls it literature. Then they think, we as Christians, are the crazy ones.
Then the world has its comedians. They tell their dirty jokes. The world has its singers who are on the stage and they spew their profanity on people. The world’s population pays them millions to do that kind of stuff. It is a perverse generation in which we are living.
I’m still preaching like I’ve always preached. I haven’t gone along with the day. It is time that God’s people start being the light in this old, cruel, crooked, and perverse world. We are to shine as lights in a crooked and perverse nation. This world is going to hell on at the speed of sound, and it’s time that we call people to some sense of sanity and some sense of morality in our world.
Have you fallen for this old world? Have you gone along with its distortion? Have you gone along with its crookedness, and you have put out the light of your life? If so, you are no longer a testimony for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Light is intended to overcome darkness. You may think, “I work in a terrible place. The job where I work, you wouldn’t believe how they act there. You wouldn’t believe the lifestyle and the ungodliness of the people.” That’s probably why you are there. God has probably put you in that dark place because God wants you to be a light for Jesus. It is time to light up the place!
We Are To Offer Direction
Light also offers direction. In Philippines 2:16, we read, “Holding forth the word of life,” that is, offering the word of life. The Christian is pictured as light, but the Bible is also pictured as a light. In Psalm 119:105, we learn, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” And don’t forget Psalm 119:130: “The entrance of thy words giveth light.”
You and I are called to hold forth the word of life. We are to share with people the direction that the Word of God provides. People don’t know which way to go. They have no sense of direction. People don’t know what’s right and what’s wrong anymore. Those of us who know the Word and those of us who believe the Word should hold forth the Word of God like a beacon light, pointing people in the right direction.
People don’t know how to have a godly marriage. They don’t know how to build a life. People don’t know how to have a career. It’s all found in the pages of the light of the Word of God, the Bible.
In the final analysis, we do not have a darkness problem, but a light problem. It is not that the darkness has become stronger, but the light has become weaker; it is not that the darkness has become bigger, but the light has become smaller. It is time to turn on the light and the darkness will flee! When we become like stars in the universe the darkness will disappear!
III. Our Light Expels Energy
In Philippines 2:17, we read, “Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith.” Now, Paul is talking about a sacrifice on the altar. He says that I am willing to be offered, on your sacrifice and service of faith.
Where Paul says, “I am willing to be offered,” it is a picture of a drink offering. In those days they would put the main offering on the altar, and then they would pour wine or water. It would go up in smoke as it came up from the altar. Paul is saying, “I’m willing to die in order to contribute to your testimony to be a light for Jesus in the world.” Light sacrifices.
We don’t get it in our modern day with electricity, but in those days, if a light was to shine it had to give itself up. In those days, if a light was to shine it had to burn itself out. By the very nature of its burning, self-sacrifice was involved. When stars shine, they expel energy in order to give forth light.
Jesus used this when He talked about John the Baptist. In John 5:35, Jesus spoke about John the Baptist and said, “He was a burning and a shining light.” The point being, you do not shine unless you burn. He’s talking here about sacrifice. There is a cost to pay. There is a sacrifice to be made to be a light for the Lord Jesus. Paul is saying here that when you learn to sacrifice your life.
And here lies one of the greatest problems with “modern Christianity.” We have lost the spirit of sacrifice. So many Believers believe sacrifice is going to church on a rainy Sunday morning. Are you old enough to remember the Sunday night services? When enough Christians quit coming to the evening services, they were canceled throughout the United States.
When our culture began to turn against Christianity, Believers quit sharing Christ. The buzz word among so many is “share your faith.” Nowhere in the New Testament are we taught to share our faith, but to share Christ. Our faith does not save; only Christ can save. This is more than semantics. Jesus is the light of the world!
In verse 17, we read, “If I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith.” You will notice that sacrifice and service go together. They are linked together. All effective light-giving, service for Jesus involves sacrifice. We don’t want to sacrifice today. We want convenience today. Sacrifice is always involved in effective service. Service without sacrifice is activity instead of ministry. Some people just get involved in activity. But ministry comes when you learn to sacrifice, when you learn to give of yourself.
Are you a useful Christian? Are you shining for the Lord Jesus Christ? Is your life useful? Are you like stars in the universe? Paul says, “I am willing to be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith.” He says that you will be useful, but he also says that you will be joyful.
Now, I challenge you not to miss this. In verses 16, 17, and 18, Paul uses the word joy or rejoice several times. He is teaching that people who learn to sacrifice for Jesus, who learn to let their light shine and sacrifice in order that their light will shine, learn that it brings great joy in their lives.
Many people think that the whole point of life is just adding to their life. They think if they can just add more gadgets, more accolades to their life and more activities to their life then they will be happy. They think the way to be happy is to add. The Bible says that the way to be happy is not to add to your life, but to give your life.
The mother and father who are willing to give themselves and take a little of the red rose out of their cheeks in order to put it into the life of that little boy or girl born are the mother and father who find joy. The mate in a marriage who comes into the marriage saying, “Not what I can add to my life. What is this marriage going to do for me?” But the person who comes into the marriage saying, “How much of myself can I give? What can I do? How can I give of myself to my mate in my marriage?” That is the person who learns to find real joy in their marriage.
Light shines. That’s just the way light does. Light shares. Light overcomes the darkness. It offers direction in a darkened world. Light sacrifices. As you burn, you begin to shine for Jesus. No bleeding, no blessing. No cost, no consecration. No willingness to give, no wealth to others.
Henry Martin was one of the great missionaries in the beginning years of missionary activity. He went to India. When he got there, he wrote these words, “Now let me burn out for God.” God blessed him.
Adoniram Judson, another one of the pioneer missionaries, went to Burma. He labored in Burma for six years and didn’t have the first convert. He went through illness, loneliness, and the death of his baby boy. He was put in prison for two years for preaching the gospel in Burma.
After he left Burma, his beloved wife, Ann, and his daughter, Maria, both died of spotted fever. But Adoniram Judson said, “I will not leave Burma until the cross of Christ is planted here forever.” Thirty years after the death of Adoniram Judson, in Burma there were 63 churches and 7000 converts. Because he was willing to give himself, he lit up his world.
I think God wants all of us to find that place of service, to be a light in this old, dark world. Whether it be in a profession or on a mission field, or whether it be in an office, or whether it be in some neighborhood, find the place where God wants you to be and make up your mind that you are going to light up your personal and professional world. Then just let your light shine, and you will light up your world. You can be like stars in the universe!