Thanksgiving Eve – 2018 LSB #’s 966, 806, 895
Text – Philippians 2:14-15 NET
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you will be blameless & innocent, God’s children without blame in a generation of crooked & depraved people, among whom you shine like stars in the world.
HOW TO HAVE A BAD ATTITUDE
“Star light, star bright, the 1st star I see tonight; I wish I may, I wish I might, get the wish I wish tonight.” It’s a nursery rhyme that many of you are familiar with. It speaks of stars as if they are lucky charms. You see a shooting star & then hope you get your wish. Human beings seem to always have had a fascination with stars.
The very Word of God suggests that you & I can shine like stars in our world. But it’s not speaking of people in the same way as talent shows like Dancing With the Stars. On that show the stars are famous because of their work in sports, movies, or music. They shine because of gifts that are peripheral to the one that matters most – life in Christ as Savior & Lord.
It is that life which draws people from the darkness of sin to the light of Christ. As Jesus stated, “My sheep hear my voice, & I know them, & they follow me.” (John 10:27 ESV) When St. Paul writes about you & me as stars he says we fulfill the roll of Christ’s voice by doing everything without complaining or arguing.
As we fill that role, some of the people we encounter in life will be drawn to the Son of God. We don’t know when or where or who, so we need always be ready. Of course, we will fail in that readiness & there is forgiveness for our failure. Then, Satan tempts us to use that forgiveness as an excuse for our complaining & arguing about the daily events of our lives.
That attitude blocks the amount of ‘shining’ we do as representatives & ambassadors of Christ. We should conclude from this Scripture reading that complaining & arguing is something Yahweh views as driven by a bad attitude. Since that is not a gift from the Holy Spirit, you might ask, “How does a child of God get a bad attitude? Where does it come from?” In general we could say it comes from our sinful nature, & that is most certainly true. However, I’d like to dig a little deeper on that. How does your bad attitude get from your sinful nature to your thoughts, & words & deeds? How does it end up out in the open where others notice it?
Here are some guidelines for how to make that happen:
Now that your bad attitude has moved from the hidden recesses of your sinful heart – out into the open – what happens next? Here are the 4 C’s of complaining or arguing. They are the results of having a bad attitude. Complaining is:
If you want to be blameless & innocent before that Judge, what does the Word of Lord instruct us to do? The sermon text tells us, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you will be blameless & innocent…” In other words, if the source of your thoughts, words & deeds is Christ, then you are truly alive & then you will not complain & argue.
In so doing you will be like Christ, who was led like a sheep to the slaughter: “…Like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7 ESV) That is how a person who is blameless & innocent will live. Do you know why Jesus lived that kind of life? Because He knew that we never could live such a perfect, innocent & blameless life.
Jesus knew that we needed Him to take our place. As we fill the role of shining like stars in the world you & I will fail, often! Without Jesus taking our place no one could be saved for with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. (Mark 10:27) You & I will not only fail to shine, we will fail to be ready to shine.
Jesus took our place, not only so we might be saved, but that others as well would be forgiven & rescued from their own bad attitudes. Now, we’re left with a choice to make. Satan will tempt us to take advantage of that forgiveness such that we don’t even concern ourselves with the results of our complaining & arguing.
We cannot choose to completely stop that behavior, but we can surrender to Jesus instead of complaining & arguing. We can turn to Jesus when we fail because we are comfortable with our bad attitude. We can turn to Jesus when we fail because we are comfortable with how self-righteous we feel while complaining about others, or arguing with them. Jesus has the power to turn us into stars if we only trust Him & follow His example of remaining silent like a sheep before its shearers. Making it a regular practice of thanking God for all the blessings He’s given us is one way to combat, or fight against our sinful desires to complain & argue. We act like that because we feel that things aren’t the way they should be.
We have that bad attitude because we aren’t grateful for everything God has already done, or for anything He will continue to do. The sermon hymn perfectly states how we can resist the Devil’s temptations to complain & argue. Give thanks with a grateful heart.
May that be what your celebration of thanksgiving revolves around this year – what the Lord has done for us. Then, by God’s grace & power, you will shine like stars in the world around you. Amen.
Give thanks with a grateful heart Give thanks to the Holy One Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son. Give thanks with a grateful heart Give thanks to the Holy One Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son. And now let the weak say, "I am strong,” Let the poor say, "I am rich because of what the Lord has done for us" And now let the weak say, "I am strong," Let the poor say, "I am rich because of what the Lord has done for us." Give thanks, give thanks. Amen. LSB 806
Pastor Dean R. Poellet