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. (Philippians 2:15)
Have you ever been caught in a blackout where it was so dark you could not see your hand in front of your face? I was at work one night when the maintenance personnel did their test of the emergency generator. I was assured the generator would work, the lights would come right back on, and the computers would restart. The moment of testing arrived and all the lights went out.
The problem was, they did not come back on. I stumbled out of my office cubicle, and headed for the corridor where the emergency lighting was supposed to be operating on battery power. I thought I knew the general direction of the doorway, but I became disoriented in the darkness as I groped along other cubicles until I found the door. There, to my dismay, I found the battery-operated lights in the corridor did not work! I stood there for what seemed like an eternity until the lights came back on. Maintenance then wanted to check them again! This time I grabbed a flashlight. When the lights did not come on for the second time, I turned the flashlight on. The small amount of light it put out seemed to light up the whole office!
When the office was well lit, the light was taken for granted. Yet, when darkness came, the light was necessary and much appreciated. Paul told the Philippians to shine as lights, piercing the darkness of their world with the Light of the Gospel. They were to live their lives without reproach, pure and holy before their fellow men.
We are to do the same today, in the wicked and perverse world in which we live. If our lives are holy and acceptable before God, the world will see our lights shining in the darkness. They will be attracted toward the light, and we will have the opportunity to witness to the lost, and prayerfully win them for Christ.
In this portion of chapter 2, Paul spent time exhorting the Philippian church to love, unity, humility, and submission to one another: all traits which Christ exemplified as He walked on earth. He was the ultimate example! These qualities were missing in their society where hatred, cheating, and carnality were commonplace. Paul wrote that if the Philippians demonstrated these Christ-like qualities, they would be different and would “shine as lights in the world.”
This passage contains a most beautiful and exalted description of Christ’s nature. Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, equal with God, existing from eternity and to eternity, became flesh. He took on the human form and was born to a woman in a lowly stable. He submitted Himself to God the Father, and died an excruciating death on the Cross, bearing the sins of all mankind.
Paul instructed the Philippian believers to “work out your own salvation.” They could not work themselves into salvation, for that experience is a gift of God’s grace and forgiveness. Paul wanted them to work at being more Christ-like and to work together for unity.
The Apostle said, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” This shows that he expected Christians to be people of action. They were not to stir up or look for controversy, but they were to stand for the truth. The more vile and sinful the surroundings, the more dire was the need for God’s truth and light. By obeying Paul’s injunctions, the Philippian Christians would be lights that penetrated the darkness around them.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines are used by permission per WORDsearch.)
III.Joy through submission in suffering A.The exhortation to submission (2:1-4) 1.The basis of the exhortation (2:1) 2.The content of the exhortation (2:2-4) a.Unity (2:2) b.Humility (2:3) c.Other awareness (2:4) B.The divine example of submission (2:5-16) 1.The explanation of the submission (2:5-8) a.The appeal (2:5) b.The pre-incarnate position (2:6) c.The self-emptying (2:7) d.The death (2:8) 2.The result of the submission (2:9-11) a.The exaltation (2:9) b.The adoration (2:10-11) 3.The application to the believers (2:12-16) a.The appeal (2:12-13) b.The content (2:14) c.The purpose (2:15-16)
A Closer Look
1. What did Paul instruct the Philippians to do, so that they would become blameless and harmless?
2. List ways in which our world is “crooked and perverse.”
3. How can you “shine as a light” to those you come in contact with?
Just as the Philippians did, we live in cultures full of unbelief and sin. Are we following the instructions from this chapter so that our lights will shine brightly?