Stars and Torches

10.14.22 Devo Image

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.”—Philippians 2:14–16 (NIV)

Dr. Seuss once said, “Why fit in when you can stand out?” It’s a strong statement about conformity and peer pressure, and one that the apostle Paul would have wholeheartedly agreed with. 

Here in this passage, Paul tells the Philippians to “become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’” Why? So that by their lives and testimonies, they would “shine among them like stars in the sky.” 

You may be saying, “Easier said than done, Danny! Especially nowadays, how can we possibly hope to shine like stars and be blameless and pure when the world is so full of darkness and depravity?” Well, luckily Paul tells us! 

You see, this passage continues to hit at the heart of what Paul expressed in Philippians 2:3–13, providing further instructions regarding our interactions with both believers and nonbelievers. In these verses, Paul . . .

  • explains and encourages them to walk in humility—the mindset of valuing the needs of others first, which Jesus Himself demonstrated through His life, ministry, and death. We see this in Paul’s command to “Do everything without grumbling or arguing.”

  • instructs them to continue to be sanctified through devotion and discipline as the Lord works in them to conform them into the image of His Son and accomplishes His good purposes. This devotion and discipline require us to “hold firmly to the word of life.”

As we do this, as we grow in relationship with Jesus and begin to imitate Him in our interactions with believers and nonbelievers, we will become “blameless” as it pertains to the laws and judgment of man (Luke 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:10) so that no one can bring any sort of charge or claim of hypocrisy against us, and we can remain “pure” in internal purity and simplicity (“harmless as doves” like Jesus said in Matthew 10:16). As you examine this sentiment Paul espouses here, you can also see the clear connection to the statements Jesus made in John 13:35. 

This life is one that stands out amongst the world, which is full of selfishness, division, discord, strife, anger, malice, and depravity. Believers who live like this will shine brightly like a star in the sky in a dark, wicked, and lost world. 

Paul hammers home this metaphor of stars and light by reminding the Philippians to “hold firmly to the word of life.” In the Greek, this expression is meant to evoke the image of holding a torch, something that was done for guidance. Do you see that? Paul is reminding us we’re torchbearers.

So, by living humbly in devotion to Jesus and holding forth the light of the gospel for all to see through our testimony, we can light the way for the people God has put in our lives who are lost in the darkness to see Jesus clearly and have the light of Jesus shine in their hearts to give them “the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV). In this, God is indeed willing and acting “in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13 NIV).

Pause: How does doing “everything without grumbling or arguing” validate your witness for Christ and enable you to “hold firmly to the word of life”? 

Practice: Examine your attitude this week. How often do you find yourself, whether out loud or simply in your heart, complaining or grumbling? Are you valuing others above yourself? 

Pray: Father, give me the heart of Jesus. May I walk in humility and gratitude, free from a grumbling and discontented spirit. May my testimony, my attitude, my actions, and my interactions serve as a torch that lights the way for people to see Your Son. May my life be centered on You and on relationship with You, so I may become more like Jesus as the Word of life guides me and shapes me. May my testimony be one of blamelessness before believers for the purpose of their edification and sanctification and nonbelievers for the purpose of their salvation. And may this all be to the praise and glory of Jesus’ name. Amen.

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.