Editorial: Shining or Whining

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless… in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Phil 2:14-15).

Someone has summarized the teaching of these verses by saying that believers have the choice of shining or whining, of being marked by murmuring and disputing, or by a blameless and pure character.

Articles in our magazine this month underline the great need for heeding the exhortation of Philippians 2. Although the article on Unity deals especially with its necessity for those who labor together in the gospel on a mission field, is it any less essential for an assembly which is “striving together for the faith of the gospel?” How often testimony among unsaved family members and in a neighborhood has been adversely affected by unwise criticism of other believers and open disputes among the saints.

The article by our brother Albert Hull reminds us all that we should be marked by a positive outlook and an aggressive approach with the gospel. Revival, recovery, restoration, and rekindling take root only in a soil which is devoid of the root of bitterness and the thorns of dissension.

We are dependent upon the ungrieved and unrestricted working of the Spirit in every assembly. Yet the same penman, Paul, reminds us how easily the Holy Spirit of God can be grieved by our speech. Are we conscious that the “discerning” remarks we make about each other are overheard by another Listener? Are we aware that all “bitterness, wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking” must be removed from our midst, and that we should be marked by tenderheartedness toward each other? “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph 4:32).

When Joshua entered the land, five kings hid themselves in a cave at Makkedah. Joshua commanded the captains of the men of war to put their feet upon the necks of the five kings. Symbolically, Joshua was saying that the five kings had to be subdued before Israel could enjoy the land (Josh 10:22-25). The five wrongs noted above – bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking – need to be subdued in an assembly before the “land” can be enjoyed.

Centuries earlier, King David’s prayer for his people included not only the beauty of the sons and daughters and the blessing on garners, sheep, and oxen, but also “that there be no complaining in our streets” (Ps 144). How fortunate is such a condition and how “blessed is that people in such a case!”

Articles in our continuing series on Marriage and the Family, The History of Assembly testimony, and the Epistle of James complete our magazine for this month. We send it forth with the fervent prayer that it will be a spiritual blessing to the people of God.