In the last episode you shared from Philippians 2, and the effect of murmuring on our mission in the world, and what our complaining says about God. There’s more to it from Matthew 5. Continue explaining this connection between salt, light, and complaining for us.
Well, I will probably say something by way of explanation, but really what I feel is that the Lord wasn’t done with me on the Lord’s Day when he showed me Philippians 2:14, “Do all things without grumbling or [reasonings].” And the reason it convicted me so much at that time was because it went on to say, “[You live] in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights” (verse 15).
Rejoice and Be Glad
And the light is doing all things without complaining, being the kind of person who is not a grumbler and a murmurer and a complainer and a self-justifying arguer with people — “Oh, you have every right to complain.” And so he showed me all that. He broke me because of my bent to complaining, and then he wasn’t done with me, and he took me to Matthew 5: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely.” Now that is when you start complaining, right? Like if my wife said something that wasn’t true, I am frustrated. I am angry. I am irritated, and then I start to reason in my mind how I should talk about this, and just everything starts to churn inside of me in terms of self-defense. And out comes complaining. And if I don’t deal with it, it just can go on and on.
So that is what happens, whether it is at home or at work or on the blog or somewhere. You get persecuted, or somebody says something falsely against you, and you complain. You murmur. You grumble.
And here is what Jesus says: When that happens, when you are treated badly, “rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:12).
“When you are treated badly, ‘rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.’”
And I thought, this is Philippians 2:14 stated positively. Philippians 2:14 said, “Do all things without grumbling that you may shine as a light in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” And here it says, “Rejoice and be glad,” which is the opposite of complaining and grumbling. Rejoice when you experience something that would make ordinary people complain. And then, just like last time, the arrow went deeper because I went on and read just three verses later, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). And I had never seen that before. In Philippians 2, “Do all things with murmuring, and you will shine like a light in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” In Matthew 5, “Rejoice and be glad when you are persecuted and slandered, for you are the light of the world, a city set on a hill.”
Great Reward in Heaven
Now I know verse 16 says, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works,” but I want to say, Doesn’t he mean there not just good deeds (Matthew 5:15–16)? The world can do good deeds. It is good deeds without murmuring. It is good deeds without complaining. It is good deeds rejoicing when those good deeds aren’t appreciated, when those good deeds are misinterpreted, when those good deeds are criticized. Rejoice in that day. So in other words, the Lord wasn’t done with me yet. There was more to do by way of illumination: Have you never seen this, John, that the light of the world, the light of the church, is a freedom from complaining and grumbling and murmuring and, instead, a joy?
And here was the new precious gift of how to fight the battle: “For your reward is great in heaven.” I had seen from Philippians that when I was murmuring, I was putting out my light about the brightness of God’s power and the brightness of his wisdom and the brightness of his kindness. And now I saw that when I am complaining, I am putting out the brightness of his reward. I am saying, “Well, the payoff for this experience right now that I am having — this slander — isn’t very good.” And Jesus is saying, “Oh, yes, it is very good. Your reward in heaven for enduring what you are going through right now with not complaining, but rejoicing, will be off the charts glorious.”
And so my battle right now, Tony, is to not just believe that God has been kind to me in the past, which he has been by dying for me and forgiving me, but that he intends a reward for every patient act, every non-complaining act. He intends a reward that is just unspeakably great.