Grumbling And Disputing Revisited


Before I forget, I’m taking part in a blog carnival, a kind of blogger magazine in which submitted articles are collected and linked at a host site. My chosen carnival is the Christian Carnival, hosted this week by Thinking In Christ. The topics may vary, but all have one thing in common — the worldview of the author. It’s a great way to take a peek beyond our usual online circle to see what other people think and what they’re concerned with.

Grumbling, again??? You might think we covered this topic to completion.

Almost, though I think we could take a look at a lot of areas and spend some time thinking about how Philippians 2:14 applies. Such a short verse, so easy to read quickly and move on:

Do all things without grumbling or disputing

The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword

But when I take time to think about the implications, I am caught, pierced by the sharp point of the Sword of the Spirit.

We’ve already seen that we’re not to grumble against God, even though our circumstances seem to put us where we don’t want to be, and even if things seem to turn worse, not better, in the face of our prayers.

We’ve also considered that the “all things” of this verse preclude our grumbling against governmental authorities or against our church leaders.

If we wanted to stay on our response to those in a leadership role, we could talk about how we deal with our parents, our bosses, even our spouses. But this “all things” part of Philippians 2:14 doesn’t let us think the verse is only about how we’re to behave when we’re in a subordinate position.

No, we’re to be different from the world in all our interactions — with our neighbors when they have a party late on Saturday night, playing loud music well past bedtime. We’re not to grumble or dispute when a commenter to a blog post calls us names. We’re not to grumble or dispute when another driver cuts us off so that we end up slamming on the brakes and missing the next light.

Is this possible?

Are we to turn into doormats with a “Come one, come all, good foot-wiping available here” signs over our heads?

I don’t think so. I don’t infer that a prohibition against grumbling and disputing is also a prohibition against speaking our minds when we disagree. This is not the Bible’s “peace at all costs” policy.

Lots of other Scriptures convince me of this. We are to remove the wicked from among us (1 Cor. 5:13), for example, and we are to turn a sinner from the error of his way (James 5:20) — hard things to do if we are to avoid confrontation.

In his third letter John took on a member of the church in rather harsh terms:

I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church. (vv 9-10)

Paul held nothing back when he was warning against some of the professing Christians who proved false:

for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica … Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching. (2 Tim. 4:10a, 14-15)

These don’t sound like statements from doormats.

Here are a couple principles I can glean from these scriptures and others.

1) To obey God in this area of doing all things without grumbling or disputing does not require more self effort. It requires me to walk in Christ — to be so in tune with Him that I want to relate to others the way Christ would relate to them. And to rely on His grace and His power, not my own self-effort.

2) If I must speak about someone else’s wrong doing, it must be for some purpose other than vindictiveness.

3) If I am to confront someone regarding their sin, I must do so in love.

4) If I am to voice a different opinion from someone, I am to do so in humility.

I think that last point is critical. Paul brought up this issue of doing all things without grumbling or complaining right after writing to the Philippian church about being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intend on one purpose.

Those things could be achieved, he said, when believers didn’t think only of their own interests but of others, too. Ultimately, he said, be like Christ who was the epitome of humility, emptying Himself, taking on the form of a bond-servant, and eventually going to the cross. With all this in mind, then he said, do all things without grumbling or disputing.

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Published in: on September 7, 2011 at 6:32 pm  Comments Off on Grumbling And Disputing Revisited  
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