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In the Message version, Phil 2:14-16 says, ‘Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.’ I think this is a really good way of getting the meaning across to us:

  • Do everything readily and cheerfully – a cheerful heart is good medicine, after all! (Prov 15:13) Having this positive attitude really makes a difference to our own lives and the lives of those we meet. We all instinctively feel better when we are around cheerful people, and we feel better when we ourselves determine to be positive. Being cheerful is a choice. It’s determined by where we put our focus and how we choose to be. Grumbling and complaining happen because that’s what we choose to focus on and how we choose to respond. Circumstances don’t have to be the deciding factor in how we live.

  • Don’t spend all your time bickering and arguing or even second-guessing people’s motives. Be open, honest and forgiving with people. Life is really too short to hold grudges. Bickering, arguing, grumbling and complaining eat us up from the inside and make us miserable, resentful, bitter people. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Learn to see from someone else’s perspective. We serve a God of ‘countless second chances’ (‘Second Chance’, Rend Collective) and need to embrace those for ourselves and offer them to others.

  • Understand that when we live as God wants us to, we are like a breath of fresh air in our world, for we live in a squalid and polluted society. We live in a world that is negative and selfish. When we live God’s way, putting each other first, being unselfish, acting out of love, then we give people snapshots of what God is like; we give people ‘a glimpse of good living and of the living God.’ That’s a powerful witness to the world.

  • Recognise your God-given identity as ‘light of the world.’ (Matt 5:14) We may not feel like light, but this is what Jesus, Himself the Light of the World, said to His followers. Paul wants us tocarry the light-giving Message into the night.’ Again, it’s not about our light per se; it’s about letting God’s light shine from us so that others can see God’s light. The Message version says, ‘By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.’ (Matt 5:14-16) As we work together and live out God’s light, we can be part of God’s winning partnership and see others come to faith in Him.