Being Different in Speech and Example
How does one not have fellowship with the darkness? The apostle Paul says that it’s by not participating in the “unfruitful works of darkness” (Ephesians 5:11). However, he takes it a step farther. Our refusal to have fellowship with the evil things of this world does not consist merely of abstaining from them; we must also actively “expose” them or “bring to light” what God says about them.
We show others by the preaching of the word and our obedient conduct that some of the world’s beliefs and habits are in violation of God’s will. The world despises it when Christians label something as “sin” or refuse to participate. However, the only way not to have fellowship with the darkness is TO BE DIFFERENT FROM IT. If Christians remain silent about sin and are like the world in their conduct, in what sense is their “light” distinctive “in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation” (Philippians 2:15)?
Doing All Things Without Grumbling
Two other things that can help us to avoid fellowship with the sin and ignorance that exists in the world is to “do all things without grumbling or disputing” (Philippians 2:14, NASB).
Grumbling is murmuring from discontent or complaining. It’s an expression of one’s dissatisfaction in a low tone of voice or muttering. It’s speaking through clenched teeth, a sign of one’s displeasure or unhappiness about the status quo.
For instance, a father sends his son to his room for disobeying him. He tells him, “Stay there until I say you can come out.” As the boy is headed to his room he angrily mutters through clenched teeth, “It’s not fair!” He resents the father’s discipline and his command.
The Example of the Israelites
Perhaps one of the worst examples of murmuring in the Bible is that of the Israelites during the time they wandered in the desert. 1 Corinthians 10:10 says that we should not “grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.” God had rescued them from slavery with great signs and wonders. He gave them water to drink and bread from heaven, but they were not satisfied. Over and over again, they complained to Moses (Exodus 14:11-12; 16:2-3; Numbers 11; 21:4-9). They were not happy serving God under those conditions. They wanted to go back to Egypt.
If we show those outside of Christ that we are unhappy with our lot in life, we will return to the realm of spiritual darkness and cease to be lights in the world. Those who are lights learn to serve God willing and wholeheartedly, in spite of the difficulties that they face in life.
Doing All Things Without Disputing
Disputing refers to an “inward reasoning, an opinion” (Vine). It is used in relation to evil thoughts (Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21) and doubtful thoughts (Luke 24:38).
Not Resisting the Lord’s Authority
Some think that Paul is referring to those who cast doubt on the Lord’s authority. Sometimes people want to argue with the Lord. They’re not satisfied with God’s commandments, so they reason inwardly according to their own thoughts and opinions. In contrast, the faithful Christian will serve God and fellowman “with humility of mind” (Philippians 2:3), just as Jesus did.
Lights In the World
By doing all things without grumbling or disputing, Paul says that you will be able to “prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15, NASB).