14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain (Philippians 2:14–16, NKJV).
Just as the influence of light removes darkness, Christians diffuse sin’s darkness when we “do all things without complaining and disputing” (v. 14). We are to live in peaceful unity, maintaining the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:1-8). By doing so, we avoid “complaining” (grumbling, murmuring against others, James 5:9) and “disputing” (arguing over words that ruin the hearers instead of strengthening them, 2 Tim. 2:14; 1 Tim. 1:3-4). Like the first century saints, we live in the middle of a generation that is immoral, “crooked” (warped), and “perverse” (distorted, corrupt). By contrast, children of God are “lights in the world,” refusing to participate in sin with the world (v. 15). We are to be (1) Blameless (free of censure, 1 Thess. 3:13), (2) Harmless (“unmixed,” guiltless, Rom. 16:19), and (3) Without fault (unblemished, blameless, not needing a reprimand, 2 Pet. 3:14). Christians are lights in this dark, sinful world. Do not extinguish your light (influence) by becoming part of the problem, sinning with the world. Like the Philippians, we will be victors when Christ returns if we hold “fast the word of life” delivered by the apostles of Christ (v. 16; 1 John 5:3-4).
He who has a deceitful heart finds no good, and he who has a perverse tongue falls into evil. (Proverbs 17:20, NKJV)
The heart and the tongue are connected. Jesus said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things” (Matthew 12:35). In today’s verse, the deceitful heart (“crooked heart,” ESV) finds nothing good in others. Truly, “to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure” (Titus 1:15). Comparisons, complaints and disputes pour out of the mouth of the person whose heart is crooked and deceitful. As God’s children we are to “do all things without complaining and disputing” (Philippians 2:14). One way to see good in others instead of falling into contentiousness is to adorn our hearts with honesty, truth and love (Ephesians 4:25, 15). Unrestrained hearts unleash verbal grenades that maim and kill relationships and souls. We must constantly remember that tongue control begins with heart control (James 3:2, 8).
A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends. (Proverbs 16:28, NKJV)
Gossip destroys trust. Openness is ruined by spreading harmful information about others. Trusting relationships are left in shambles when we talk to the wrong people about other people. Gossip, by definition, hurts and destroys instead of building up a person (Colossians 4:6). Gossip never addresses the party of which it speaks; it thrives in anonymity (“don’t tell anyone I said this”) and deniability (“I only said what was true”). This proverb says such a person is “perverse” (deceitful, fraudulent). It may be said of the whisperer that “perversity is in his heart, he devises evil continually, he sows discord” (Proverbs 2:14). Gossip is not a victimless sin. It leaves strife, suspicion, and separation in its wake. Gossip puts others down. It elevates the whisperer at the expense of others, without considering how his words disturb and distress the lives of others. Let us check our words before we speak, to be sure they impart grace for edification, not disdain and destruction (Ephesians 4:29).