Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
As we continue in this letter, Paul is still talking about being “worthy of the gospel” in a context of our need to find humility as Jesus did. We shouldn’t be too surprised that he has found his way into grumbling and arguing. Those two things probably don’t come out of humility very often, at least not in my experience. He urges us to drop those kinds of things that we might become pure and blameless children of God.
It strikes me as interesting the direction he goes from there. Notice that he puts this right into focus by contrasting this “crooked generation” with the result of being blameless children of God who “shine like stars.” Think about the contrast, and the effect it would have if the followers of Christ shone like the stars while in this “crooked generation”. Think about how that would look to the rest of the world around us; there would sure be a contrast.
Paul engages in a little personal reflection here as he points out that when he meets the Lord it would be obvious that he hadn’t labored in vain, when the Philippians are shining like stars. When he goes on to use the term “poured out like a drink offering” he is telling them that even if he is executed, he will be filled with joy for the work of Christ in them, and urges the Philippians to be filled with joy as well.
Obviously, Paul has brought us back to purpose in saying this. For the followers of Christ to be pure and blameless children of God and to shine like stars in this dark world, is really not about star children, it’s about their testimony and God’s purpose. Think again of that contrast: What would we look like to those who have not yet followed Christ? Some will be irritated and full of criticism, but others will see the love of Christ and want to have some themselves, and it is for these that our testimony is so important. Yes, there is no way around the fact that God’s purpose must always be at the forefront of our thinking as we follow Jesus down the path of life.