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Don't you see the light?

In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing so that no one can speak a word of blame against you. You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of people who are crooked and stubborn. Shine out among them like beacon lights, holding out to them the Word of Life.  (Philippians 2:14-1TLB)
True confessions here...sometimes my "beacon" gets a little fogged over by my complaints and verbal agonizing over things not going my way, or that I just simply don't like. It is easy to slip into the complaint-mode, even kind of "second-nature" to some of us. Complaint takes on the issue as something we will "lament" or "object to". It is a subtle form of criticism that sometimes carries with it the idea we have been "wronged" or "put upon" as a result of someone else's actions. To be truthful with you, most of the complaining we do really doesn't accomplish a doggone thing, and may even make us more discontent than the original action did!
We are told to "shine out" as a beacon of light - holding out to all the Word of Life. Shining requires a degree of awareness to our own responses that we sometimes aren't all that keen on developing. I know I feel a certain "tug" in my spirit whenever I drift into the "complaint lane" in life. It is as though the Holy Spirit is saying, "You don't really want to go down that path, do you?" At times it easier to just go along with the crowd than it is to stand up for what we know to be true or right. At others, it is just easier to complain about what we don't understand, or maybe something that gives us a little bit of trepidation. 
Regardless of how we get into the "complaint lane" - by drifting slowly into it, or making a conscious decision to just get into it directly - we find our ability to be a 'beacon' gets a little less effective because people don't want to be around others who complain (or argue) all that much. Sure, there are pockets of people drawn to complaining and arguing - because it is in our nature to follow this course when we don't get our own way. Most of us would rather live above the conflict, though. God hears our complaints - even those spoken under our breath! 
I'd like us to realize something this morning - we shine a light one way or the other. If we avoid the complaining and arguing, we are shining the light in one direction. If we are giving into the complaining and/or arguing, we are still shining a light - it is just toward a different direction. The important thing to keep in mind is that others see the light - they are drawn to it because that is what light does. If it is shining in the right direction, the movement toward the light is less likely to cause others to be "tripped up" along the way. If it is shining in the wrong direction, the light may illuminate the pitfalls, but if that is the only path another sees, they may take it anyway! Maybe this is why we are reminded not to go down the path that encourages others to follow where they may stumble, too.  Just sayin!

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