One of my co-workers once spoke of the effect of
light on different kinds of insects. Moths fly to the light, and cockroaches
run from it. He was simply saying that light attracts and light repels. It is
the same light in both cases.
The title of this paper comes from the seventh verse of the
first chapter of John: “But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we
have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us
from all sin.”
However, the definition of light is found two verses
earlier. “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is
light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with
him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth” (1 John
God is light, and
in Him there is no darkness at all.
Some of us have been in places where there is no light at all. Even for those who are not afraid of the dark, after
a short while they begin to get scared.
However, none of us has ever been in a place where there is
no darkness at all. We like to be in places that are a mixture of sunshine and
shadows, light and darkness. God uses these expressions to tell us spiritual
truth. For instance, “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” (Phil. 2:14-16).
If you have been on a U.S. Navy ship at sea or if you have
been in a teacher’s room at an elementary school, or in any office, or in any
manufacturing plant or in any home or church or anywhere where there are two or more people, you have almost
certainly heard and/or participated in complaining.
Complaining seems to be a social norm rather than a
phenomenon. “In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron”
One of the most common complaints is, “That’s not fair.”
This is a thought that supposedly appeals to the highest standards of virtue or
morality, i.e. fairness. This may be a shock to you, but fairness is not a
quality of God, nor is it from God.
It is not like the fruit of the Spirit, nor is it justice or mercy. It is
humanism. When we use the phrase “that’s not fair,” we are saying that
everything is not equal, but it should be equal. The person who says, “That’s
not fair, has suddenly set themselves up as the judge of right and wrong. He
has also become the judge of everyone else—God, father, mother, boss, roommate,
and anyone else who doled out this “unfairness.”
As an exercise in studying Jesus’ view of fairness, please
read the following:
For the kingdom of heaven is like a
landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.
He agreed to pay them a denariusfor the day and
sent them into his vineyard. About nine in the morning
he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay
you whatever is right.’ So they went.
He went out again about noon and about
three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About
five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He
asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
‘Because no one has hired us,’ they
He said to them, ‘You also go and work in
When evening came, the owner of the
vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages,
beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
The workers who were hired about
five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive
more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When
they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you
have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat
of the day.’
But he answered one of them, ‘I am
not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?
Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last
the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do
what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
So the last will be first, and the
first will be last. (Matt. 20:1-16)
Did you identify with the complainers, or
did you identify with Jesus? If you start with fairness as the standard, there
will be many things that you will not like about God.
Some years ago, a man was executed in the
state of Washington. There were two groups of protestors outside the location
of the execution. One group was very much against capital punishment. The other
group was, at least in this case, very much for the death sentence.
Before the man was executed, he was shown on
television. He said that he had received Jesus Christ in prison and that he had
been forgiven by God and was going to heaven. This made the people who were for
his execution very angry. They did not want him to go to heaven. The other
group also was not happy because he died physically. To them, life on earth was
more important than everlasting life. Neither group thought it was fair. But
God’s view of justice and mercy is
never the same as fairness.
There is a solution for complaining about
without complaining or arguing.” (Phil. 2:14)
“And whatever you
do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving
thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col. 3:17)
“Whatever you do,
work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (Col.
“Give thanks in all
circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18)
The solutions are simple: 1) do everything
in the name of the Lord Jesus, 2) to the Lord Jesus, and 3) give thanks in
everything. It is difficult to complain when you are doing these things.
However, you may find this difficult to
practice, even if you realize the truth of it and the need for it. If you are
coming out of years of complaining about everything, then giving thanks in everything
is a big turn-around.
Before you can start giving thanks, you need
to repent of your years of complaining. Confess and forsake the complaining.
Otherwise, you will be trying to obey on top of a pile of unforgiven
disobedience. That just will not work.
Once you are clean, then you can give thanks
and do it in the name of the Lord Jesus.