I opened my prayer book to a reading from Philippians (2:2-4,14-16) and these words jumped off the page:
"In everything you do, act without grumbling or arguing: prove yourselves innocent and straightforward, children of God beyond reproach in the midst of a twisted and depraved generation--among whom you shine like the stars in the sky while holding fast to the word of life."
And then it hit me. This is not a suggestion. These words of Scripture are not suggesting that we "act without grumbling or arguing," but they are telling us to "act without grumbling or arguing."
How can we do that? I asked my husband. We're human, not perfect. Grateful for the beauty of Reconciliation, I at once realized that you cannot stay in a place where you act contrary to Scripture without immediately considering the mercy of God.
But that being said, isn't it interesting how often we think of the commands of Scripture as nice suggestions--something we should do, something that would be good for us, if only we could?
I find that when I take these Words of Life to heart and try to employ them, I reach higher than I thought possible. This passage in particular makes me try to withhold words that are uncharitable, act more generously, and certainly grumble much less!
Wouldn't it be amazing if, as Christians, we really were to become like shining stars? How great an evangelization tool we could become!
Look up the passages I have cited here and see if they might influence you as well. Do not miss the opening passages where we are to be of "one love, united in spirit and ideals." How might you work toward that as well?
If we open our hearts to God and take his words to heart--not as mere suggestions--we may be amazed at how beautiful our lives can become. Let us ask God for help in embracing his words and learning how to live by them.