“Among these people you shine like stars in the world because you hold on to the word of life.” – Philippians 2:15b-16a
Part of our responsibility as redeemed people is to stand as witnesses to the light.
This morning I could go in three different directions. First, there’s the helpful and productive conversation we enjoyed at my men’s group around law and grace as discussed in James 2:1-13. Then at some point I need to write about the moment of epiphany that has essentially answered the question of what my next inspirational book will be. And finally, I’m wrestling with the sad truth that some people find themselves in such difficult circumstances and toxic relationships that they simply cannot see hope or light.
So here is the difficulty in feeling hopeless. Hopelessness forgets the essential truth that even though the circumstances – and other people – appear irredeemable, we ourselves can always choose to be people of light and promise.
This is a hugely important truth because part of our responsibility as redeemed people is to stand as witnesses to the light. We have been talking, during the series paralleling Rebekah’s messages on the 7 deadly sins, about spiritual gifts that stand as opposites, or antidotes (humility for pride, generosity for envy, compassion for anger). Light, then is the only gift we have that will defeat darkness, and it is faith that is the answer to hopelessness.
Faith = belief plus action:
And of course, this brings us right back into the conversation from the Book of James. A few days ago I made the statement that the phrase “faith in action” is a redundancy because action is a necessary element of faith; i.e. belief put into action equals faith. Faith without action, then, is by definition not faith at all.
This is how faith is the answer to hopelessness. Not wishful thinking but belief put into action. Belief on the move takes us out of hopelessness every time.
If your difficult circumstance and/or relationship is affecting you to the extent that you participate in the anger, the acrimony, the mud-slinging, the toxicity – then you have stepped out of the light and have conceded at least partial defeat. But light is not just stronger than darkness, light defeats darkness.
- Your choice to stand as witness to light by living belief-in-action is not compromise it is victory!
And this, good people, is what being witness to light looks like:
- “God is the one who enables you both to want and to actually live out his good purposes. Do everything without grumbling and arguing so that you may be blameless and pure, innocent children of God surrounded by people who are crooked and corrupt. Among these people you shine like stars in the world because you hold on to the word of life.” – Philippians 2:13-16
- “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this.” – Galatians 5:22-23
“Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” -1 Corinthians 13:4-8
This is not easy, not even a little bit. But God is faithful and God’s promises are true. Forever, and ever. Amen – DEREK