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;
One of the biggest rebukes God had toward the nation of Israel in the Old Testament was that they had tarnished His name with their idolatrous and sinful behavior. They were acting just like the heathen nations around them, and that made God look bad. He had to judge them for their sin and allowed their enemies to defeat them and scatter them about. And so when He tells them that He will deliver them, He says it will be for His name’s sake, to remind both His people and the nations around them that He alone is God, and He is the only one who is to be worshiped and obeyed.
It could be said of the Israelites back in those days that they were living in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. It could be said of Christians back in Paul’s day as he was writing this letter to the church. And it could certainly be said of our world today. That seems to never change, but what can make a difference is God’s people and how they behave in the midst of all that darkness. We must do things the right way because others are watching, and we want to have a good testimony for God. We want to represent Him well before the world around us and not tarnish the name of our Lord.
When we shine as lights, there is a noticeable difference, a contrast with the darkness surrounding it. There is a clear line that separates one from the other. And the light can enlighten others. So when we do the things we are supposed to do, when we act how God expects us to, and when we keep ourselves untarnished by the world, not only does it create a stark contrast between us and the world, but it may cause others to want to live that way, too. It may encourage a struggling believer to make some changes and get back on the right track. And it may touch the heart of an unsaved person and lead them to seek out God for themselves. And as that light spreads and grows through the church, it makes a difference in the world around it.
Let’s strive in our lives not to cause unnecessary trouble or conflict. Let’s refrain from questionable pursuits and behaviors. Let’s keep ourselves pure before the Lord, not harboring sin in our hearts and lives. Because when we live in such a different way from the world, it’s noticeable. When we are following God’s way blamelessly, it glorifies Him. And when our one life shines brightly right where we are, it makes a big difference in the darkness all around us.