Links Daily Devotional

Out of a Divot

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. (Philippians 2:14-16, NIV 1984)

What does complaining or arguing mean? Looking at the different translations (I wish I could read Greek!), other words like grumbling, questioning, murmurings, disputing, division, grudging, contentious spirit, and reasonings are used. It has to do with both the inner dialogue that we have and the outward expression of our thoughts through speech.

Where does complaining occur? I have to admit that in studying this Scripture, I am finding out that I complain a lot, especially when something doesn’t suit what I want. Like when you walk up to your ball in the middle the fairway and find yourself in a divot, or when the weather isn’t great, or when you are not hitting the ball well, or when a spike mark is in your way… Also, it happens in everyday life. Not another trip to the grocery store, I sometimes find myself thinking. And this after a mission trip to Haiti, where women would carry heavy burdens on their heads for hours, trying to get to the market! What about in training or at your job, when your trainer or your boss gives you an assignment that you know will be difficult? It is so easy to grumble!

On the other hand, when we want to do something, it is so much easier to get started and to complete it with joy. God calls us to approach everything like that, but invariably we find the law of the Spirit and the law of the flesh in a battle at our core. As Paul stated in Romans 7:21: “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.”

So then, where does the power to shine come from? “As you hold out the word of life” seems to be the answer in this passage. God’s living and active Word and the knowledge of our life in Christ that it supplies offer the answer in our battle against all evil, including grumbling.

Christ, in giving up his own life, gave us the ultimate example of following the Spirit, not feelings. He yielded to his Father’s will. Often our murmurings are against what God has for us and his authority. Even though we know he has the best plan for us, and that anything else would be settling for less love from God, we struggle with yielding and surrendering our flesh. It is easy to surrender to what “feels” good. Fortunately, we have great encouragement from this “word of life” that he has given us.

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ! John wrote, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Without him, we are condemned and cannot shine. But in Christ, we have the knowledge and power to live according to the Spirit. And since our bodies are the temple of God’s Holy Spirit, next time we feel like grumbling, maybe we should ask ourselves, “How’s the Spirit feeling today?,” and choose his way, not ours.

Isabelle Beisiegel

February 13, 2012

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The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday through Friday and is archived by passage and topic at