Summary: Stars for Christ stand out in the world of darkness
Today we’re going to talk about being a star or a light in the world. Again if we look at the language being used in this passage, It seems like Paul is speaking directly for Jesus straight from the Holy Spirit. We could easily transpose Paul’s words here with those of Jesus. I also found a couple of quotes that could have very easily come from Paul’s mouth in terms of what success is. I think they are very relevant to being a successful Christian especially:
“This is success. To be able to carry money without spending it; to be able to bear an injustice without retaliating; to be able to keep on the job until it is finished; to be able to do one’s duty even when one is not being watched; to be able to accept criticism without letting it whip you.”
“The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking spaces.”
You will see as we talk that Paul says basically the same things.
What is the difference between a star athlete and a no name teammate? Or the difference between a movie star and a starving extra? Where do stars stand out the most, when they are surrounded by mediocrity. This is the message today, that we as Christians should stand out as stars in a world that Paul says is crooked and twisted. But we should not stand out for our own glory, but to please Christ.
Much of what stars do to be great is behind the scenes through practice, dedication, and attitude. The world cares about what we do when others are watching, but we are to be even more obedient and excellent when nobody is watching. A star is still a star even when they perform when nobody is watching them. A Christian may especially be a Christian in their hearts and in private.
I. Stars Work Hard (vv 12-13)
A. They are Obedient
A great athlete must be obedient to specific fundamentals and ways of training that will cause success in their sport. They must dedicate themselves to practice and learning throughout their careers. As they get older, they may have to modify how they train and learn to adjust to their limitations. Tiger Woods is notorious for this, he is always adjusting his swing and looking to be better than he was, in spite of his amazing success. He wants to be the best for a long time, something that is very difficult to do.
Living as a Christian is no different. If we are going to have a fruitful, growing faith we have to dedicate ourselves to practice and learning. We want to have a lasting faith that grows and adapts as life, and the world changes. Consider your spiritual disciplines like you would the 5:30 am hockey practice, you don’t want to get out of bed, it’s not convenient, but you go because that is the only chance you have. In the same way God may only give us certain opportunities to be obedient, so we need to take them.
I have spoken previously about what some of the basic fundamentals of our faith are. Reading God’s word, prayer, attending church and doing service work. But verse 13 gives us relief by saying that it is God that works through us to both will and work. By faithfully doing the fundamentals and desiring a deepening relationship with Him, the Spirit inside us will cause us to want to do what he wants us to do to please him. God gives us the desire, and the power to accomplish when we abide in Him.
What is “working out your salvation?” “Work out” means to bring to conclusion, or achieve. In other words achieve your full salvation. Are we not already fully saved by Christ? This is very important and difficult to come to terms with. We are to obey and work out our own salvation, but not in our own effort. Yes we need to try our best, but we must also let God work in us so that we can work outwardly in a way pleasing to Him. It is more important to cultivate our relationship with God through his word and prayer, than to do any outer work or service on our own efforts. As it has been said, God is more interested in the worker than the work.
It seems Christians throughout the centuries have looked at this as either/or. We are either to be completely obedient to a tee in a legalistic way, or it doesn’t matter what we do. It is both, what we do matters very much, but what we do must come from what we have in us, which is the nature of God. Cultivate the nature of God in your mind and heart and your actions will be pleasing to him.