Whatever! Our society tends to use this word in a negative context. A woman is fired up at her boyfriend when he ticks her off and she blatantly utters, “Whatever!” in his face. A wife feeling flustered with her husband in the heat of an argument exclaims, “Whatever!” as she walks away. An angered teenager mutters, “Whatever!” under her breath when her parents say no to her request.
Whatever! When do you find yourself using this word?
It communicates exasperation, apathy or indifference. Simply put, it boils down to an I don’t care attitude.
In scripture, the apostle Paul uses this word in a whole different context. In Philippians 1:27 he writes this: Whatever happens, conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
His whatever isn’t used in frustration, exasperation or apathy. Quite the opposite, he is urging followers of Jesus Christ to exhibit conduct that honors Him, no matter what is happening. Really? Even when my spouse ticks me off? Even when my child pushes me to the edge? Even when my boss is inconsiderate? Even when someone purposely cuts me off in traffic? Yes. Really!
Whatever happens. Period. Fill in the blank with your situation. Paul doesn’t limit this to certain circumstances. It doesn’t say Only when things go your way, or Only when your loved ones respond appropriately, or Only when you’re feeling well and your to-do list is caught up.
This is hard for me! I would much rather skip over this verse completely. I want to justify my selfish behavior. I want to hang on to my pride. I want to control situations the way I see fit. But no. I am called to conduct myself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What exactly does this mean?
Simply put, it means that no matter what my circumstances are, I am called to act in such a way that it brings honor and glory to Jesus.
My actions should be a reflection of his love.
My actions should point others to Him.
My actions should bring light to darkness around me.
Maybe your response to this is to brush it off and say “Whatever! There’s no way I can do that. You don’t know my situation.” But the reality is that in our own human strength, we can’t possibly have this attitude. To truly have an attitude like this we honestly have to die to self and surrender our mind, will and emotions to Jesus in these tough circumstances. I honestly have to admit that I get this wrong more than I get it right. But God continues to give me plenty of opportunities to try again!
I used to have this scripture taped to the steering wheel of my car. Right there in front of me were these challenging words. This scripture didn’t bother me as long as things were going my way. But as soon as someone cut me off in traffic or was driving WAY below the speed limit, these powerful words challenged me. They were a reminder to me that no matter what someone else did, I was still responsible for my actions. Yuck! There’s no easy way around it. God simply calls us to reflect him whatever the circumstances. (Just writing this blog post is a reminder to me that I need to re-attach this powerful scripture back on my steering wheel.)
There are many times I am still tempted when faced with a frustrating situation to mutter Whatever! and walk in the flesh instead of being driven by the spirit. When I’m tempted to use that word, I pray God will gently remind me of this command to respond in a way that is pleasing to Him.
So what about you? When are you most likely to spew out the word Whatever! ?? Ask God to shine His spotlight on your heart and show you where you need to surrender a situation to Him.
Philippians 1:27 “Whatever happens, conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”