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Improbable Joy – Philippians 2:14-18

Mar 11, 2024

This portion of Paul’s letter speaks to how we live because of the justification of Christ. We are to “do all things without grumbling or disputing”. Grumbling means “to mutter in a low voice, a low tone, under your breath.” You are not vocalizing to somebody else. It’s a bad attitude. Disputing is when you take it from under you breath and it becomes a dialogue. You are telling everyone what’s wrong with everything.

This matters because verses 15-16 say, “that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” This does not mean sinless perfection, but is a reminder that the testimony of the church is in view. The people were to (and we are to) live so that those outside of Christ could not rightfully point an accusing finger at them.

We live in a twisted and morally bent world. It is easy to be disgusted and always avoid those that are not believers in Jesus. We can’t forget that without Jesus, we would be just as hopeless. But when Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them (Matt 9:36). Remember that those who are in that crooked and twisted darkness have an eternity waiting for them which should compel us to be compassionate for them.

The world is as crooked and twisted as ever which means the opportunity for us to shine has never been better than now. Remember, we do not create the light; we get to reflect it. But, if all we do is shine among other people who are shiny, we are not doing a lot of good. We must be “among” those who are in the dark. (Matt 5:14-16).

When we choose to live with an improbable joy rather than grumbling, and to shine like lights in the world…things will change.

For Paul, all of our shining, all of our light bearing, all of our gospel preaching, and all of our attitude adjusting is a part of our worship to God. Paul felt his life draining away during his long wait for trial, and he was prepared to give his life for the Lord on behalf of the churches he served. By multiplying himself in others, the gospel is able to advance exponentially!


  1. Where are the places that you find yourself grumbling and/or disputing? What do you need to do to adjust your attitude to be a light for Jesus?
  2. Where do you go that puts you around others that are not believers in Jesus? How do you let your light shine in those situations? Are you only in “holy huddles”? If so, what can you do to expand your light?
  3. Pray that the Holy Spirit will give you compassion for others living in this “crooked and twisted” generation. Pray that you will see others like Jesus did, with compassion. We all have an eternity with God or separated from Him.