READ : Philippians 2:14-18
. . . in the midst of a crooked generation . . . you shine like stars. (v. 15)
Paul describes Christians as children of God who will shine like stars in the world. But it is not, as Karl Barth has written, the Pharisaic ideal of being better than the wicked world that Paul is proclaiming here. What makes Christians shine lies in their resolute renunciation of self-glorification or the wish to be superior to others. Pharisaism is nothing new in the world; it provides no light in the darkness. The light of which Paul speaks appears where people no longer join in the game of self-justification. Instead, they live from grace.
Garret Keizer in his book Help says of two characters in a novel that their biggest difference had to do with gratitude. One helped because he lusted for gratitude. He acted kindly out of a “selfish selflessness.” He said he wanted to make a dent in peoples’ troubles, but what he really wanted was to make a splash, to be noticed and to sweep people off their feet with his generosity. But the other character operated from gratitude. She never forgot the goodness she had been shown.
The power to shine like stars comes from gratitude. The life that shines is captivated by grace.
Dear God, it is you who made us; it is you who redeemed us. Thank you. Amen.