“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world, by holding firm to the word of life.”
An Invitation to Go Without Complaining
I invite you to take a moment to meditate on Philippians 2:14-16. Do you feel you are following this instruction in your day to day life? Would others describe you as blameless and pure? Does your life stand out in this sinful generation we find ourselves in? Are you holding firm to God’s word?
A few weeks ago we read this scripture in our bible class and I could feel my heart freeze. I immediately remembered the way I huffed out of frustration when my daughter wouldn’t leave my feet. I thought about how I often lamented over the stress of motherhood and the envy I’ve often felt in my heart toward my husband who goes off to work around other adults, and finds himself with 60 minutes of commute time each day to listen to whatever he wants.
As I thought about my tendency to grumble, my chest grew tighter as the Sprit continued to convict my heart.
I love staying home with my young children. It is my first choice, but I admit, the enemy has still found footholds through the challenges that come with my day to day life. The temptation to grumble is not reserved for stay-at-home moms. The enemy hits us all with deceptive ways, no matter our age or circumstance.
And oh, do we grumble.
Scripture gives us a different way to live.
Scripture tells us to live without grumbling. Why? So that we might shine like stars in the world for the purpose of bringing God glory.
Do you know anyone who is always able to find joy no matter the circumstance? A couple of different people come to my mind. These sweet friends of mine are the brightest lights. They radiate God’s love. I’m always so refreshed after spending time with them. It is not that their life is easy, without any strife.
To live without grumbling is more than just ignoring one’s burdens, it is living with the joy of the Lord inside their heart. Philippians 2:16 says this happens by holding firm to the word of life. We must know God’s word, believe it, and put it into action in our lives. In God’s word, we will find two beautiful characteristics to lace our hearts with.
A Heart of Service
Matthew 20:28 says “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” Grumbles often stem from entitlement. Christ, on the other hand, displayed a very sacrificial way of living. We must reflect on our life circumstances and look for the opportunities to serve and bring God glory.
A Heart of Gratitude
“When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed, when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, count your many blessings; name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 instructs us to “give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Embracing a heart of gratitude and continually looking for the blessings in life will not only help us to live more joyfully, but will also align our lives to God’s will.
As I’ve reflected on my tendencies to grumble these last couple of weeks, I’ve been reminded to embrace the season I find myself in, and to serve my family patiently and joyfully. I know that I will continue to grumble from time to time, but I pray that God often leads me to this passage in Philippians. In a world that feasts on entitlement and selfishness we will surly shine like stars from the joy of the Lord, if we serve and love those around us without grumbling.
So go ahead, jot down Philippians 2:14-1. Put it in a place where you will see it often and be reminded of a better way to go through your days!
“Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”
I love going to church. Growing up as a minister’s kid, church was my life. This joy has stayed with me into adulthood. That being said, I realize this is not the case for everyone. Some people have been so turned off by an experience they have had with a church that they’ve completely turned away from the Lord. Some people are just on the fringe–perhaps they wonder why they even bother coming.
Can you think of anyone you know who might not enjoy church?
It truly breaks my heart to see this, and perhaps it hurts me the most because I know that I’ve been a part of the problem.
Do you view your church as a mission field?
Think about it…we can do all the outreach and evangelism outside the church walls that we want (and should!), but if our church is not welcoming every person who steps through our doors with warm love then we are failing. What good is it to get someone through the door if they never experience Christ’s love within his church? Our church building is a mission field in so many ways, but I’m going to try to stick with one very important way: relationships.
It’s so easy to get caught up in ourselves when we go to church services or activities. Our desire to fellowship with our friends can sometimes cause an unintended, but detrimental effect. Nothing sends the message “You’re not welcome here” like a church full of cliques. Yet this happens, maybe without us even noticing.
Missing the Mission Field
Sometimes, during the distractions of entertaining our personal friendships, we miss those around us, and we miss opportunities to show Christ’s love.
- the visitors, the elderly, or the handicapped.
- the ones who are hurting or who need help.
- the new members who haven’t made any connections yet or the new Christians who need support and someone to study with.
- the children and the teens who need to know they are important.
I don’t put this blame on others, as I’m very guilty. I’ve been on BOTH sides of this and it’s very likely that you have too. So what can we do about this?
Mission Field, Not Social Club
Let’s change our mentality when we are within the walls of our church building. Let’s view our church as a mission field rather than a social club. “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” (Hebrews 10:24)
We love visiting with our friends, and we should because Christian friendships are important. Fellowship time is a huge blessing, but we’ve got to open our eyes to those around us and realize that some have no one to fellowship with. Our moments of fellowship at church can’t just be about those with whom we are comfortable; we must reach out so that every person in our church building or at our church activities experience what the body of Christ is all about: love.
I get it, there isn’t much time to talk to our friends, much less other people. Have church friends over on a Tuesday night for dinner. You can even invite someone you don’t know very well! Get together with another church family on Saturday and go to the zoo. Find time to build relationships and enjoy the company of your Christian family! But how about during church gatherings we make it a goal to see the mission field? Maybe we can even get our friends on board with us! 🙂
During Visiting Time:
- Here is what often happens: We say “hi” or smile to those we don’t know and we have conversation with our friends. Let’s reverse that! Start conversations with those you don’t know and give a wave to your friends, or even better, introduce your friends to this person. The moment we walk through our church’s doors we should be on the look out for those who might need our encouragement or friendship.
- Be a greeter! I’m sure your congregation likes for people to stand by the door and greet people as they come inside. This is so important!
- MEET THE VISITORS! This seems like a no-brainer, but in my experience it’s more normal to be ignored when you’re visiting. Would you want to come back to class if it felt like you weren’t even noticed? Seriously–we can visit with our friends later. But if we don’t make the effort to walk across the room and meet a visitor, we might never have an opportunity again. What’s more important?
- Volunteer to teach or help in a class. The functionality of a church should be a community effort. We should never go to church expecting everything to be done for us. There is always a way to pitch in and help. Talk to the ministry leaders at your church if you don’t know where to start. By doing so you will have the opportunity to see others and show them Christ’s love.
During Worship Service:
- It’s tempting to go straight to our usual spot by our usual people, and it’s OK to do that sometimes! It’s also fun to change it up though. You will get to know new people and you can hear new voices praising Jesus.
- Help in the nursery or children’s worship. Who doesn’t want to snuggle with a baby? By doing this you have the opportunity to help out and encourage young families. You might even be the first friendly face for visitors, and giving their children loving care shows Christ love so beautifully!
- Sit with someone who has no one to sit with. Sit by a family or a single parent with young children who might need an extra hand. Sit by a mom who just watched her last child go off to college. Sit with an elderly couple who lives away from all of their family. Sit with a visitor. Sit with someone hurting. Sit with someone who might need your help. Realize that the pew you choose to sit on might very well be a mission opportunity from the Lord!
Find a Way to Show God’s Love
Life is hard…sometimes we don’t feel like we have anything to give. We might feel empty and broken and needing to be filled. Pray that someone will find you, my friend. Reach out to someone. Draw close to Jesus every day of the week.
Is your church family one that radiates God’s love to all who walk through your church building’s doors? I certainly need to work on this more. It’s easy to fall into what’s comfortable. You might be more of an introvert, so this concept might have your knees shaking in anxiety. There are also quiet ways to serve and encourage, like sending cards to those on the prayer list. You don’t have to meet everyone, but try to find someone to invest in and love on. Let’s hold each other accountable and look for opportunities to serve God and bring him glory during our church gatherings. Let’s have Hebrews 10:24 on our hearts always!
“Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”
In a Christian marriage there is a goal to put God first, but I’ll be honest–my husband and I didn’t really know what that meant when we got married. We knew we wanted to honor God in our life together and be part of a church family, but we really didn’t know the extent we’d be called to put God first.
At the beginning of our marriage we were consumed with personal needs. We’d read all kinds of marriage books talking about needs and love languages and respect, and while we tried hard to please each other, we got upset when we didn’t feel the same effort in response. Now, the lessons in those books are great–but we didn’t have the right mindset. We needed a mindset of grace if we were ever going to really put God first in our lives. Thankfully, over the last couple of years we’ve learned more about how to live a grace-filled marriage and it’s made such a wonderful impact on our life together.
Here is the new foundational truth for our marriage:
Our relationship with God is more important than our relationship with each other. This is how we truly put God first in our lives and in our family.
Now, you might not like the way that sounds but hear me out—
Supporting each other on your individual walks with God is the most important thing you can do for your marriage.
When your spiritual life becomes top priority you think differently. Your mission in life is no longer about your happiness on earth but your eternity with God–and this affects your marriage in a good way! When you are focusing on your eternal destination more than your current one you will be a better spouse. How do I know this? Well, focusing on my eternal destination means that I’m striving to be like Christ, and who can love my husband better than Christ? My best love for my husband will be fruit from my relationship with Christ.
“Every marriage goes through moments of anger and temporary failures. But you must determine your goal. What matters most: winning arguments or resembling Christ?” – Francis Chan (You and Me Forever)
I don’t know about you, but I want my life to resemble Christ. That’s way more important to me than making sure my needs and love languages are met. I’m not saying love languages and meeting needs are bad–they can be a very good thing when you are putting your desire to please Christ above your desire to please yourself. Then you will use those methods as God intended–as a way to serve your spouse.
Now, as wonderful as all that sounds we still have a little problem.
Are you still with me? My husband and I have a very tricky enemy working against us and he can use those needs and love languages as a stumbling block. Sometimes our spouses don’t meet our needs and don’t speak our love language and then what?? How will we respond?
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
The devil is looking to devour me. The devil is looking to devour my husband.
When a spouse messes up (no matter how insignificantly), you can bet your bottom dollar that Satan is on the hunt for victory. He’s watching how we will respond. This is why we need to lavish our marriages with grace.
Why? For us it’s simple.
Because the devil will NOT gain victory in our household.
No, he will not get an ounce.
Christ gets all the power, all the glory, and all the victories in our house.
So what do we do when the devil is prowling at our door? How do we let Christ get the glory in our home? Well first, we stay on our guard and know who our enemy is! It’s really easy for me to feel brokenhearted when things aren’t going my way. In return, I can act pretty ungodly, treating my poor husband like he is my enemy. I know that my husband has triggers too, times when the devil is crawling at his feet. There are going to be misunderstandings and times when we mess up and end up hurting each other.
However, Satan is our enemy in these times. It’s not my husband. It’s not me. Knowing that Satan is the enemy makes it easier to extend grace to each other because we know that we are each on the pursuit of holiness. We want to encourage each other on this process, not get in the way. We want Christ to come first in our marriage. This means that we want to be like Christ and we want to show Christ’s love to be fruitful in our marriage. We want God to take the victory, and he does! God takes the victory every time we set our personal needs aside and extend loving grace in His name!
Live a grace-filled marriage.
When you and your spouse find yourself at odds, offer grace. Once you extend grace, you can then demand the enemy leave your home. If you’ve seen the movie War Room, then you remember that powerful scene where Elizabeth Jordan literally yells at Satan to get out of her house–she even yells him out of her front lawn! There is something to be said for verbally voicing Satan to leave. It shows we really mean it and we want him to hear it! Also, then you should pray.
We can’t fight the enemy on our own. We need God’s help. So get down on your knees -together or alone. Beg God to fight the enemy out of your life and your household.
Let God do all the fighting in your marriage.
“God will fight for you; you need only to be still.”- Exodus 14:14
Let God claim the victory in your grace-filled marriage.
It’s 2:30 PM.
My girls didn’t take a nap. My older one is being a stinker, and the baby just wants to be held. I take a selfie of my frustrated expression so I can pour it all out on social media.
As I’m writing out the text for my post I immediately delete and put down my phone. A couple of hours later I catch my daughters sweetly looking at each other. I take a picture and post it, reflecting on how the days are long, but the years are short. I do this because I want to remember the blessings of the day more than the frustrations.
Remembering the Blessings or the Frustrations
I can’t tell you how many days the above scenario plays out. I’m not saying it’s wrong to share the frustrations of every day life with young children. In fact, sometimes I DO share! Here is the thing though.
Every day will have frustrations- children or not! Years from now, I want to think of these days with my little girls as sweet. Of course I’ll remember the struggles with potty training, illness, and defiant behavior, but I hope my overall remembrance of these days will be positive.
I want to remember the giggles and snuggles. The pitter patter of small feet hopping across the house and the way she crawls backwards instead of forwards. The funny little words they say and the proud way they sing their songs. Days where we got to play, read, and relax. Days when personality popped. Days we found friendship. Days lessons were learned. Days of togetherness.
The reflection that I want to have in the future begins with the present. I have a say in how it goes! I must ensure that I’m noticing the good, and looking for perspective in moments of difficulty.
Let’s season our social media posts with gratitude.
Yes, hard things happen, and sometimes we want to share. That’s okay. Let’s keep perspective though.
Let’s do all we can to create great days so that when we look back, we won’t only remember the struggles of our current phase, but also our blessings.
Be encouraged by these posts as well!
Discussions over unity in the church are often in regards to denominations, but what about age? Do you feel unified with those in the church who are a different age than you?
The Attitude between Younger and Older Women
It is tempting for those of us who are younger to ignore the words and ways of those who’ve gone before us. We might cast older women off as irrelevant if they don’t see as we do.
“The way they do things are outdated,” we might think.
This attitude can make older women feel like they aren’t respected.
This is not completely the fault of the younger ones. It can be challenging to adapt to new ways, and sometimes change is frowned upon. Sometimes young women really don’t know that they are invited to play a part too, or perhaps the nature of the gatherings are inconvenient for those with children in the home.
This can make the younger women feel like they aren’t respected.
It can go both ways.
This is not how God wanted his daughters to relate to each other. It must make him sad to see this divide that happens so often.
Erasing the Divide between Younger and Older Women
Paul gives us some thoughtful advice in his letter to Titus.
“But you are to proclaim things consistent with sound teaching. Older men are to be self-controlled, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love, and endurance. In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not slaves to excessive drinking. They are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, homemakers, kind, and in submission to their husbands, so that God’s word will not be slandered.” Titus 2:1-4
God’s church is multi generational, and he designed it so that the younger might be encouraged by the older in their faithful living.
As Younger Women…
This means that as young women, we need to embrace the insight that the women who’ve gone before us have to offer. It means that perhaps we step outside of our comfort zone and attend that Ladies Night or bible class- even if we are going to be the youngest one there. We can always bring a friend with us.
When I’ve opened my heart to my older sisters in Christ, I have found welcoming arms, listening ears, mentors, help when I’ve needed it, and best of all, enduring friendship. I’ve also found that these women are usually accepting of new ideas and love to see younger ones get involved. If we are respectful of what their life experiences have taught them, we can learn quite a bit! When you see older women, go and talk to them. Invite them over to your house for coffee or tea. Bring a meal to them when they have had surgery. Offer them some baby gear to borrow when their grand babies are visiting. Listen to them. Pray for them.
As Older Women…
For any older women reading this, I ask that you not give up on us younger women. Seek us out. Ask us about our ideas. Let’s work together to blend our women’s ministry with changing generations. Offer your advice to us in loving and encouraging ways. Smile at us when our toddler is acting up in worship service. If you have it in your heart, offer to watch our kids so that we can go out with our husbands. Babysitting is very expensive these days so most of us aren’t finding alone time for our marriage. Invite us over for coffee or tea. Tell us about the struggles you faced as a young wife and mother, and share how you’ve grown in Christ. Listen to us. Pray for us.
We are All Both Younger and Older
There is always someone younger we can encourage, and there is always someone older whom we can be encouraged by. Let us strive for unity as women in the church. Let us be sisters in Christ, encouraging each other to live godly lives!
May those who don’t know Christ, see Him in our bond with each other, and want to be a part of the family. May we bring glory to God together!