Overcoming the Spirit of Grumbling!
“14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[h] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.” Philippians 2:14-16 NIV
Paul begins verse 14 by saying, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing…” I’d like to start by focusing on the first two words of the passage, “Do everything…” This teaches that the life of the Christ follower is a life of “doing.” We are called to be “not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22 NIV) because Jesus Himself (John 14:23 NIV) said “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.” James the Apostle (James 2:26 NIV)
recognizes that “faith without works is dead.” It is important to know that while we are not saved by our works they are a natural outflow of our salvation.
The next part of the verse is a very difficult challenge for me. Paul says, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing…” One of the saddest things is discovering a Christian whose sin has been washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ, whose soul has been redeemed for eternity by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, whom the Holy Spirit of God has come to reside within, yet remains a chronic complainer that always finds faults around them, is never contented, and is never satisfied or happy.
Paul identifies that it is highly unbecoming of a redeemed follower of Jesus Christ and of sons and daughters of God to be a grumbler and complainer. Paul shows in Philippians 2:14 that if I allow a spirit of grumbling and arguing to take up residence in my heart, while I may still be saved by His grace, I will not be found to blameless and pure.
A Christian who overcomes a spirit of grumbling, complaining, and arguing, Paul compares to a bright star shinning in the darkness of night. He compares a Christian who is not overcome by a spirit of grumbling and arguing as one who “hold(s) firmly to the word of life.” This implies that the Christian who gives into grumbling and arguing “does NOT hold firmly to the word of life.” Which are you? Do you hold firmly to the word of life or not? Has a spirit of complaining and grumbling settled on your life? Grumbling and arguing is characteristic of the children of Israel back in the Old Testament as they wandered the wilderness with Moses. It was their grumbling and arguing that kept them from God’s Promised Land. It is our grumbling and arguing today that can keep us from entering into God’s promises for our lives too.
I read about a monk who entered a monastery and agreed to take a vow of silence. Every ten years, he could only speak two words. After the first ten years he was brought before the monastery leader. He said, “Bed, hard”. Ten years later he came before the same leader again. He said, “Food, bad”. Ten years later he came before the same leader again. He said two words, “I quit”. The leader said to him, “Well it doesn’t surprise me. You haven’t done anything but complain for the last 30 years.”
Sadly there are some Christians who speak mainly words of criticism and complaints about their own condition or about someone else, or the church. All of us have our complaints from time to time but some are constant complainers. Complainers are seldom people who are difference makers. They are usually they are on the sidelines criticizing those who are giving their best to make a difference.
If I really understand that the Jesus Christ took my place on the cross to give His life for me and to enable the person of the Holy Spirit to reside within me and to empower me to live the life that God expects of me, there is no reason for me to give into a spirit of complaining.
If God never spoke to me through His word or through a still small voice again, it should still be enough. If He never answered another of my prayers and chose not to grant me another day of good health in my life, that should still be enough. If God took away all of my family members, my job, my home, my reputation, and my friends, that should still be enough. Truly, if all God did for me was to come to this earth, and give up His life on the cross to die in my place in order to save my soul for eternity, that should be enough. If all God did was to come and take up residence in my heart to lead and guide me that should be enough.
As I increase in my gratitude to Jesus, the complaining and grumbling spirit in me should decrease and Galatians 2:20 will begin to come to fruition in my life. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”
Lord I repent of my complaining spirit. Renew my mind and heart to focus on You more than my problems. I forget that You are so much bigger and brighter than any challenge I face. Empower me by Your Holy Spirit to overcome the spirit of grumbling. In the strong name of Jesus Christ I pray, amen.