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Philippians - Part 14

"Silent Lights"

by David Legge | Copyright © 2003 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com

'Preach The Word'Now we're turning to Philippians chapter 2 again. Of course last week we were looking at the Christian life inside out, and we looked at what it is to work out our salvation, as verse 12 tells us, the Christian workout - and the fact that we work out our salvation because God is the one who worketh in you both to will and to do according to His good pleasure. There was the Christian's workout and God's work-in. The portion that we're looking at this morning, verses 14 to 16, speaks of silent lights, silent lights.

All of you will know that lights, generally, don't make any noise, but lights burn...

Verse 14: "Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain".

I think all of you will know that lights, generally, don't make any noise, but lights burn. They don't make a noise, but they send forth an effulgence. You heard our brother George Bates recently telling the story of a friend of his who was asked to go and mend a doorbell for an 84 year-old woman. Of course, you men know what it's like when you're asked to do something, and you put it on the back burner for a little while - then it becomes a long while, and eventually the wife nagged, and nagged, and nagged at him, and he decided: 'I better go round and fix this lady's bell'. When he got round to the woman's house, of course he knocked at the door, and when she came to the door she said: 'My bell's broke, it's totally broke, I need a new bell. You can try and fix it, but as far as I'm concerned I need a new bell'. Lo and behold, he tried to ring it and it wasn't working. So he got a screwdriver out and started to take it apart, and he found that all that was wrong with the bell was a flat battery. So he got the little woman in her living room and said: 'No, it's alright, it is working'. She says: 'No, I'm sorry, but it's not working!'. She said: 'I've tried to ring it, other people tried to ring it, it's not working'. He said: 'You don't understand me, it is working, but you've a flat battery. All you need to do is go down to the local corner shop, and with a few pounds buy a new battery, and I'll fit the new battery and everything will be alright again - your bell will ring once more'. As soon as he said that, she said to him: 'Well, could you get me one for that light on the ceiling there, because that burns every hour of every day and it's costing me a fortune?'. The man says: 'No, dear, I can't get you a battery for that light because it takes more power to shine a light than to ring a bell'. It takes more power to shine a light than to ring a bell.

Now don't misunderstand what I'm saying to you today, it's good to be vocal in our Christian lives and we're exhorted to. In recent portions of this book we've been told how Paul was encouraging these Philippian believers, from prison, to go out and not be fearful, but to tell people of the love of Jesus no matter what the consequences of suffering might be for them. But what Paul is coming to now here in these verses is that shining a light is more superior than making a noise. It is right to make a noise, it's right to be vocal, but we ought not to do that at the exception of letting the light of the Gospel and the life of Christ shine from ours.

It's right to be vocal, but we ought not to do that at the exception of letting the light of the Gospel and the life of Christ shine from ours...

It's important to be vocal in our Christian faith, but what Paul is now touching in these verses that we're looking at today is that often Christians are vocal, but what vibrates from the Christians mouth and lips is not the voice of praise, not the voice of proclamation and the preaching of the Gospel, but the voice of complaint - the voice of grumblings and murmurings as he puts it in verse 14. When there should be emanating from the life of the child of God to this dark world the light of the Gospel, the light of a holy life and the hope that they have through Christ, what comes forth is a barrage of moaning, groaning, grumbling, complaining, fault-finding and censoriousness.

Having thought about this in the week that has gone by, I have a theory that those who make the most noise complaining are doing it in some strange way to compensate for the lack of light in their life. There's no real fire in their bosom, the life of God isn't emanating from their lives in such a way that people can stop and say: 'There is a man that shows the life of Christ'. So they have to complain about other people in order for others to take note of them. They're vocal in their complaining because, maybe consciously or subconsciously, they're trying to distract from others seeing that they aren't shining. I don't know whether you accept that: that instead of shining they are shouting, and hope that people won't be able to tell the difference. Maybe they're not just trying to convince other people, it could be that they're trying to convince themselves that complaining compensates for a lack of real fire and light.

I happen to believe that it is those with no real vital relationship with Christ - I'm not saying they're not saved, but they're not walking day by day in communion and dependence upon Christ - there's this void in their life, there's this emptiness that can only be filled with fellowship and communion with Christ, but they try to fill it with some kind of little crusade or gripe. This thing takes the place of Christ in their life, and they begin to convince themselves: 'This thing makes me spiritual!'. It may be that that thing of itself is spiritual, but these type of people believe that this will substitute the light of God in your heart and shining out to the world around you, and it does not! In fact, I believe as we go deeper and analyse the motivations behind believers who complain, who groan, who moan, who murmur and grumble, we find that Paul is really saying - now remember the context of the rest of what we've studied in this passage, the wondrous condescension of the Lord Jesus as He came from heaven to earth, as He stooped, thought it not something to be grasped at to be seen as God and to behave as God, but made Himself of no reputation, humbled Himself - you know all the rest, we've looked into it in great depth. But what Paul is really saying here is that those who grumble and complain are trying to pull others down, that they might exalt themselves. Do you see it?

They're not humbling themselves, they're not doing what he instructed in verse 3, look at it: 'Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others'. Rather than build others up, and lift and exalt others, they're pulling them down so that they by default might be exalted. I hope you can see the connection - and what doesn't help this in the life of Christians is the fact that we are programmed in our society today to be discontent. The media and advertising encourages us to be discontent with the way things are, to want something more, to want something else. It seems, as you study society and civilisation, that the more affluent a society gets the more discontent it gets. The more it has, the more it wants. We're bombarded with this fantasy world through the television, the movies, and advertising - the media continually assaults our senses with these alluring images, and often unrealistic pictures of what we can be if we had their product!

If we promote an entertainment atmosphere - as many churches are today - we will be continually trying to meet the felt needs, the whims of those people who thrive on that and who find their contentment in it...

This type of plastic perfection that they purport to us to be the norm, it tells us - and there can be times that we let it in - 'This is what you should be, this is what you should have', and we make the false assumption and formula and equation that: 'If I had that', or, 'If I looked like that', or, 'If I'd be like that, I will be happy'. When we get those things, or perhaps don't get those things, we don't become happy, we become discontent. Discontent then breeds impatience, and you would know that impatience is a defining characteristic of our day. If someone pulls in front of you on the motorway, or at the traffic lights, you no longer beep the horn and maybe find people doing rude signs to you, now you go into your boot and lift a baseball bat and break their legs! Road rage! Because people, more and more, are getting impatient because their discontent has made them such. You don't need to go to those who commit road rage to see it, you can see it even in the church of Jesus Christ where this consumer culture has become more common. That's why, today more than ever, there are more churches splitting in our land than we have ever known - believers fighting and bickering with one another, and usually it's coming from the seed of complaining and malcontents in the assembly which is more and more common today.

People leave the church because the music's not fancy enough, or their children prefer a more modern church where their friends go to. Maybe it's a minor disagreement with the policy in the church, or the leadership in the church - but what we are finding today is a consumer ideal in the church of Jesus Christ: 'If I don't like something, well I'll leave it and I'll go to something I like better if it doesn't give me the buzz, if it makes me discontent'. But we find that most of these Christians that operate in this way are always discontent, and are always moving around churches because they never find that happiness. I say to us as a church today, if we promote an entertainment atmosphere - as many churches are today - we will be continually trying to meet the felt needs, the whims of those people who thrive on that and who find their contentment in it.

You see, there's a great danger here, because if we cater to felt needs and whims we operate on a superficial level, and we supply the demand of those people who are yearning in expectations for the things which, I would say, are purely sensual. Let me give you an illustration: I like music. I mightn't like the type of music that you like, and you mightn't like the music that I like, but I like music and I've got quite a few compact discs. What would happen to me is, when somebody gives me a new compact disc - and I was saying this to somebody this week who give me two - I will listen to that. I'll listen to it over and over again and again, if I like it of course, over and over again and again and again and again until I'm absolutely sick of it! Then I'll throw it in the corner, and maybe a year from now or six months from now, I'll look down all the CDs that I haven't listened to in a while, and then I'll put it on - and then I'll do the same again. I'll listen and listen and listen and listen again, and it's a purely sensual thing - there's nothing wrong with it, but all that it is is: I continually need this satisfaction, and I get this satisfaction until I become discontent, and when I become discontent I need something new! If I operate in the spiritual realm in this kind of sensual capacity, felt needs, the whims, the expectations on a superficial level, I will be continually trying to meet that need. As a church, if we do that, we will be continually changing and never be able to satisfy people!

You see, the church isn't meant to operate on a superficial level, it's meant to operate on a spiritual level - because to do anything else actually leads to discontent, complaining, and eventually to impatience. That's why the biblical command is so clear: do not complain! Don't complain! Now, if you are familiar with the Old Testament, you will know that the people of God have been shamefully known for this sin. Perhaps they have been known for it more than the world, and it could be the case today that this is the sin that we could level at number one - public enemy number one - in the church: to complain. Adam complained against God before Satan - you remember then, God said: 'Adam, where are you?', and Adam said: 'Well, it's not my fault, it's the woman that You gave me'. Then the woman complained that Adam encouraged her, and also the serpent beguiled her. There is this culture of blame right from the very beginning of time. Then Cain is punished for slaying his brother Abel, and he complains that this punishment is too great: 'I cannot bear it!'. He complains against God's judgement upon him. You find that the nation of Israel, when they're delivered from Egypt, we see them praising God and singing Psalms unto God, but what we often forget is that three days later they are complaining about the waters of Marah being too bitter to drink. So God brings them to a place called Elam, which is an oasis of rest, of sustenance, of quenching of their thirst - and they complain in Elam that God hasn't provided any food for them!

The church isn't meant to operate on a superficial level, it's meant to operate on a spiritual level - because to do anything else actually leads to discontent, complaining, and eventually to impatience...

When faithless spies come back from the promised land to give their report that was dire and dismal and depressing, they complained again: 'Are you going to bring us into this place to be killed?'. When God gave them bread from heaven, the food of the angels, they complained that they were getting sick of it, and they were harping back to the garlic and the onions and the leeks of Egypt. Let me show you an illustration of this to show you that this isn't a new phenomenon. Numbers 14, Numbers 14, and you can see the pattern of complaining here, but what I want you to see is that their complaining became contagious, it spread. Verse 2: 'And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt'. Verse 10: 'But all the congregation bade stone them with stones', that's Moses and Aaron, 'And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel'.

One Israelite started complaining, and then he complained to another, and the other agreed with him. Then they began complaining to everyone around them, and before we know it they're actually lifting up stones to stone the leaders that God had put over them - because their complaining had led them to be discontent, and then they found themselves impatient and they took the thing into their own hands. Paul, when he refers to that particular incident in 1 Corinthians 10, if you look at it, verses 9 and 10, says these words: 'Neither let us test Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer'.

When we go into the book of Jude we find there also that the mark of the apostate in verse 16 of Jude is: 'These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage'. Now why am I bringing all these references to your attention? It's simply to show you that to complain against the Lord, or to complain against the Lord's people is a very serious matter! It has dogged the people of God from the very beginning of time, and it's still with the people of God today - we could turn to James 5, 1 Peter 4, and the apostles there again are telling us: 'Do not complain, it is a grievous sin against God'.

So we have the command in our verse: 'Do all things without murmurings or disputings' - stop complaining. Let's break this up for a moment: 'Do all things'. That's remarkable, because there are sometimes that we feel that we've got grounds, and we're warranted, we're legitimate in our moaning and our complaining - but Paul is saying you shouldn't complain. As you work out your salvation, of course, as you're moving toward heaven, the only noise that you should be making is praise to God! Not complaining! Chapter 4 and verse 4 that we'll look at later, it bears it out, Paul says: 'Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice'. This is a man who is locked in prison, and he's saying: 'There's no warrant or justification at all for the child of God to be a moan!'.

All things should be done without murmuring, without disputing. Now let's look at these two words. The first word 'murmuring' could be translated 'grumbling'. It's from a Greek word, now listen to it carefully, 'gongusmosai' (sp?), which is an onomatopoeic word - that simply means a word that sounds like what it's describing. You've heard of a 'gong', haven't you? A gong, a big clang - and you have this word 'gongusmosai', and Paul is using a word that really describes in its sound the guttural muttering sounds that people make when they're complaining. I don't know whether you've ever seen the cartoon 'Dastardly and Muttley', but the wee dog when he gets into bother and doesn't like what's going on, he makes that noise - you've heard him. It's that sort of expression that comes deep down from in your being, that you grumble, you murmur, you complain. This word is used in John 7 of those who murmured and plotted against the Lord Jesus Christ. It's used in Acts chapter 6 of Christians who were complaining that as the alms were being distributed among the saints, that there was some kind of racism that the Jews were getting more than the Gentiles - and from that there had to be appointed deacons. It's this grumbling that is not immune from the people of God, and it's the same word that was used in 1 Corinthians 10:10 that we looked at, of the Old Testament saints murmuring against Moses. Their murmuring led to discontent, their discontent led to impatience that made then bend down, lift a rock, ready to kill Moses and Aaron.

As you're moving toward heaven, the only noise that you should be making is praise to God! Not complaining!

The next word 'disputing' is from a Greek word 'dialogismos' (sp?), and this is a little bit different because it's inner reasoning. It's complaining in your mind and in your heart - you see the likeness 'dialogue', it's like talking with yourself. If grumbling is an emotional thing, where these deep guttural sounds of moaning and murmuring come, this is an intellectual moaning. It's like an arguing, maybe with yourself: 'I don't deserve that, I'm going to get my own back', or maybe even an arguing with God: 'Lord, this isn't right! Why is this happening to me? This isn't fair!'. But what Paul is really trying to get at is that both of these things, the emotional grumbling and the intellectual disputing and debating with yourself and God, all flow from pride.

You have to remember that Paul was talking into a society where among the philosophers, particularly those who followed Aristotle, they were filled with such a pride and a debating spirit, they would sit in the marketplaces and debate this that and the other thing - worthless nonsense. But they took pride in their ability to dispute, to complain, to murmur, and this thing was an epidemic in the city of Philippi where Paul is writing to.

I wonder do we ever complain against God? God asks us, perhaps, to do something; or maybe one of God's servants asks us to do something; and that thing costs us, and we begin to feel the price of what we're doing: do we grumble, and do we say in our minds: 'Well, why should I? It's not fair!'. The import of what Paul is saying here is: 'I'm in prison, folks, I'm suffering for Christ'. In chapter 4 verse 11, and we'll get to it at later stage, he says this: 'Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need'.

Now I'm not saying that Paul didn't ask in his heart at times: 'Why?'. I'm not saying he wasn't confused, but what Paul is saying is: 'I never complained verbally or intellectually in such a way that the world around saw me as a grumbler and a complainer!'. That's what he's getting at. Now, what are the reasons why Paul tells them not to murmur or complain? They're threefold, I want you to get this because it is so important for our assembly and for our individual lives, and for our evangelistic witness. The first reason is for our church. We ought not to grumble and complain for the sake of our church, verse 15: 'That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke'. Paul says you shouldn't murmur or complain in order that you become the children of God as He wants you to be, the type of child that He wants you to be. He uses this 'blameless and harmless', or 'harmless' could be translated 'innocent'.

The tragedy is that we are children at times, but in the wrong sense, in the way that we bicker over nonsense. We pout our mouths and we sulk over, at times, imaginary slights and hurts from our brethren and sisters in Christ. Paul says an essential part of this, to be a child of God, to be a member of the church of Jesus Christ, is to quit complaining, to be blameless. That simply means, the root meaning, 'without defect or blemish' - a moral and a spiritual purity, that no-one can point the finger at you and say: 'I know what he did, I saw him doing this that or the other thing'. You're not to blame others like that, but equally they're not to find any fault in you in order to blame you and in order to incite a complaining and a murmuring spirit. The word 'innocent' means 'blameless' as I said, or 'unmixed', or 'unadulterated'. It's actually used of unalloyed metal, metals that aren't mixed; it's used of wine that isn't mixed with water. What Paul is saying here is: 'You're not to be mixed with the world, the sentiments of the world, the philosophies and attitudes of the world. You're to be different, and you're to be seen to be different for the sake of the witness of the gospel of Christ'.

People aren't meant to be able to point the finger at you with regards to business or how you're a neighbour, or your attitudes, or your speech, or even how you complain about other Christians - it should not be so...

The Lord uses this term 'blameless and harmless' when He said: 'You're to be as wise as serpents, and as harmless as doves'. People aren't meant to be able to point the finger at you with regards to business or how you're a neighbour, or your attitudes, or your speech, or even how you complain about other Christians - it should not be so. Paul says you should be children of God without rebuke, without reproach. That word is closely related to 'blameless', but it's used over an over again in the Greek translation of the Old Testament of the lamb that is without blemish and without spot. You're to be seen and witnessed by the world around as being pure, untouched, uncontaminated of any blame or guilt. That's something else, isn't it?

You might be sitting here like I was studying this, and thinking: 'Well, how is this possible?'. Well, it's not possible on our own - it is possible to work out our salvation like this for the sake of the assembly, but we can't do it alone. We must be working out what God has put in us by the Holy Spirit. We must realise that it is in total and absolute dependence upon His power, His enablement and His grace, that we can do these things. As Jude said: 'He alone is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless', blameless is the word, 'before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy'. You will have noted in these past weeks that one of the chief joys that the apostle found in Philippi would be their unity in Christ, their putting one another before each other, their bending over backwards to serve one another. Paul says you can't do that and complain and grumble within the church.

It goes on further, because Paul says: 'The reason why I have commanded this of you is also for your world, the world in which you live...that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world'. You see there is a tremendous negative impact upon the unsaved, those without Christ in the world around us, when we bicker and fight and grumble among ourselves. I hope commonsense would tell you that, but Paul is proving it by saying that you live in a crooked world, the word is 'bent, curved, twisted', the Greek is 'scolios' which is the word we get the medical term 'scoliosis' which involves a curvature of the spine, misalignment of the back. Paul is saying: 'You're living in this bent, warped, twisted world, and therefore in that world you've got to be seen to be straight'. 'Crooked and perverse', it's a similar word but it's more active, it's dynamic, it means that they try to do all around us in this world in a crooked, diluted and sinful, iniquitous way - but you're to be different in your dealings, and especially in your verbal conversation, your light is to be without murmuring and disputing.

Living pure, united, peaceful lives, Paul says, is a pre-requisite for taking the gospel to such a crooked and perverse world. We are to be in the midst of them, let's not miss that point, we are to be in the middle of the world, geographically, but spiritually we ought to be utterly and totally separate from them! Now the big question here is: are we silent lights to the world around us? Or does the way we behave, how perhaps we shelter ourselves and segregate ourselves from the world, and try to get as far away from them as possible; or the fact that they witness us bickering and fighting and complaining over nonsense, does that affect our witness? Paul says we are to preach 'holding forth the word of life', but what he's saying is that the backdrop of 'holding forth the word of life' is to be the shining blinding light of the lives that we live!

'Among whom', he says, look at, 'ye shine as lights'. It's reminiscent of what we learnt in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:14 and 16, where we've to live as the light of the world, as a light set on a high hill, as salt in the earth, that men may see our good works - not our murmuring and our grumbling and our complaining - and when they see our light, glorify our Father which is in heaven as we reflect the light of the world around us. The picture that Paul has here is a dark, black backdrop of space, and the stars shining forth. It is the lighthouse directing the storm tossed mariner into the safe harbour. In fact, the Greek word is 'as luminaries', the insinuation is that he's talking about the sun and the moon, the greatest lights of all! We're to be like that! That guide the whole world, the weather, the seas, and the sailors! As the world receives light from the sun and from the moon, so we are to hold the word of life forth, and the life is to be almost coming through us to that word and into their hearts - we're to be silent but effective in it!

They hear you say: 'You know you need to be saved', and then in the next breath you're writing off some other believer - do you think they're stupid?

The whole point is: our lives are to be the platform for the gospel, because the way that God has worked right throughout all of time is: 'The Word becomes flesh and dwells among men'. The word is to become flesh in our lives, we're to be like live wires literally, that when they come into contact with dead ones, by the process of induction we transfer the very power of our lives. It's like telegraph messages that we are to communicate by this divine power the light that shines out of our lives that we are Christ's, and it's meant to ignite and affect other people!

The question we need to ask ourselves is: what do we communicate? We can influence others by currents of good or currents of bad, but what do other people get when they rub up and down against us? Do they get complaints, moanings and grumblings? What they need to get is the light of the gospel, not just verbally - they hear you say: 'You know you need to be saved', and then in the next breath you're writing off some other believer - do you think they're stupid? I was talking with someone this week about how it's not enough to give out a tract, it's not enough to preach the gospel from the pulpit, we must be among the lost for a long enough time that we start to affect them by our light and to give them a chance to let our light shine upon them, if we have any light at all!

It is the word of life, the gospel, that brings life - don't misunderstand me. It is the power in the gospel, but what Paul is saying is: your lives are to be an illustration of that gospel to show that it works. Your life ought to lay weight to the words of the gospel. The unbeliever is an unlit lamp! Now I believe that perhaps the allusion that Paul is giving here is to the Philippian jailor, from Philippi of course, in Acts 16. You remember what happened when the earthquake came to free Paul and Silas, he was plunged into darkness, and he asked for a light - and Paul and Silas were his lights! They where his lights! Why? Because that man that heard them singing and praying and giving praise unto God in the prison cell, and it wasn't just when he said 'What must I do to be saved?' - Acts 16:31 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ' - that did the trick, but this man knew that the lips that were speaking the word of God were in front of a life that showed the power of God and the light of the Gospel!

We are to be both communicators and illuminators, we are to be both voices and lights, we are to speak but we're also to shine, we're to be heard but we're also to be felt! Silent lights for our church, for our world, and finally for our leaders. Paul says: 'That I may rejoice', verse 16, 'in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain'. Wuest translates it like this: 'That I have not run my race for a phantom prize, nor toiled for an elusive way'. Now don't think that Paul was going back on what he said in 1 Corinthians 15:58, that: no labour for the Lord is in vain - that was a different sense, I believe, than what Paul is saying here. He's insinuating that there is a sense in which it is possible to labour on God's children in vain with regards to the judgement seat. It's like competing for a prize that doesn't exist, running a marathon and finding that you were running for nothing; like working for wages that are never paid, there's nothing at the end of your day's work. Paul is saying: 'I want you people, my people, to be a source of joy to me at the judgement seat, that when I stand before God I will rejoice when He brings your name up'.

Will we stop murmuring and complaining? Will we start shining and burning for God?

Isn't that what he said of the Thessalonians in chapter 2 and verse 19? 'For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy'. He wanted to be able to joy in the Philippian believers! You know the best thing a believer can do for their leaders and overseers in Christ, apart from praying for them, is to stop moaning, stop complaining, and be united so that we can say on that day: 'I did not run in vain, or toil in vain'. In other words, to be able to see that the work we're putting into the children of God, that it's profitable.

Now don't misunderstand me, but let's be honest: there are times when you're in the Lord's work and you feel that you're wasting your time. That might be wrong, but that's the facts! Sometimes the Lord's servants feel like that, and Paul didn't want to feel like that now or at the judgement seat! That he had poured all his efforts from prison into the Philippian Christians, and they were wasted for all they did was moan and complain. On the ceiling of the great state hall in Versailles there's a painting of Hercules in mythological surroundings, and it says that the artist took two and half years to complete the magnificent work. When he got to the end of it he was given no pay, and he was so utterly devastated that he committed suicide in that very room beneath that great painting, because he felt that life seemed without purpose to him if there was an absence of commensurate reward for the work that has been done - pointless!

Now there is a sense in which God's work is God's wages, but there is another sense that in the light of the fact that God has promised reward, who wants to be wasting their time? I don't! Sometimes leaders hear the attitude: 'It's none of your business, you mind your own business what I do with regards to the nights I'm not at the meetings, why I'm not at the Lord's Table'. Can I say to you: it is my business! It will be my business at the judgement seat, and I don't want to have wasted my time on any of you! The greatest joy a leader can have is what John said in 3 John 4: 'I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth'. God save us from living small inconsequential lives, for He would have us shine - and if He would have us shine, we must burn, and no lamp ever burns and gives light without burning up and consuming oil. There's no candle gives light without melting wax, and John the Baptist was described as a burning and a shining light - he shone and he lost his head for it! It cost him to burn!

Will we stop murmuring and complaining? Will we start shining and burning for God? For then our church will be blessed, the world will be blessed, and your leaders will be blessed when they stand at the judgement seat of Christ.

Our Father, help us to see them waiting, looking at us, silently watching all that we do. Oh Father, love is what Jesus came to unfold, and we pray that that condescending humility and love of Christ may shine forth in our lives as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, as You work in us - that this world that is crooked and perverse around us may see the light of the Gospel in our lives, and may be drawn to that light in salvation. Lord, help us in this assembly to be those who are marked by the fact that we love one another, that what this world will hear from us is not a mixed message of complaining and preaching of the Gospel, but Lord that they will see the love that we have for each other and for them and the message of love, and that they will come to Christ through the word of life. In His name we pray. Amen.

Don't miss Part 15 of 'Philippians': "Paul's Christ-like Friends"

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Transcribed by:
Andrew Watkins
Preach The Word.
February 2003
www.preachtheword.com

This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the fourteenth tape in his Philippians series, titled "Silent Lights" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.

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