By Brian Mitchell
The story is told of a circus owner walking into a restaurant and seeing everyone crowded around a table. On the table was an upside down pot that had a duck tap dancing on top of it. The circus owner was so impressed that he offered to buy the duck from its owner and after some negotiations he agreed to pay $10,000 for the duck and the pot.
Three days later the circus owner returned to the restaurant in anger demanding his money be returned. He told the restaurant owner that his duck was a rip off because he had put him on that pot before an audience and he had not danced one bit. It was then that the duck’s former owner asked him if he had remembered to light the candle under the pot.
While that may be one reason someone would put a lighted candle under a pot; that is not really what candles are for. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that candles are meant to be used to provide light to all who are in the house. That is what a light source is for, to provide illumination in the dark.
In like manner, our lives as Christians were intended not to be hidden under a pot, but rather to shine before all men so that they may see clearly the way to our heavenly Father. We are supposed to be a positive influence on all those around us—Mt.5:13-16. The problem is that at times we spend too much time complaining and grumbling about life’s circumstances that our lives are anything but a shining light to those around us.
In an appropriate text for this time of year, the Apostle Paul exhorts us “to do ALL things without complaining/grumbling and disputing.” (Ph.2:14). It is the complaining part that I want to focus on today. Paul says to “do all things without complaining” so that we might become blameless and without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse world. And to “do all things without complaining” so that our lives might serve as a shining light to those living in darkness.
Jesus said, “We are the salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.” Thus, all of us whether we realize it or not, have a degree of influence in the lives of others. We are all being watched by others who see what we do and hear what we say, especially if they know we are professing Christians. The question then is not are we influencing others; it is how are we influencing others? How is the way I live life, specifically when it comes to how I deal with less than pleasant circumstances, affecting those around me?
What Paul says in essence is that our light or influence is enhanced or diminished by the way we deal with life’s circumstances. How do you react to daily life and living? Life has its share of difficulties and hardships for all men; do we grumble, complain and look to find fault? Or do we, as Paul elsewhere exhorts, “rejoice always”, “giving thanks in all things”—Ph.4:4, 1 Thess.5:18. The manner in which we influence others depend upon how we answer this question.
What does it say to an unbelieving world when Christians are no better at handling the challenges of life without complaining than they are? It says that our relationship with God through His Son doesn’t really have the positive effect in our lives that we claim it does. So regardless of what life throws at you “do all things without complaining” and you just might be the light that leads some lost soul out of the darkness.
- Brian Mitchell preaches for the Jackson Church of Christ in Jackson, MO. He may be contacted through the congregation's website.