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.

Published in: on September 7, 2011 at 6:32 pm  Comments Off on Grumbling And Disputing Revisited  
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And No Arguing?

Philippians 2:14 in the NIV says, “Do everything without complaining or arguing.”

I grew up arguing. No matter what my parents said or even the occasional paddling they gave, it seems my brother, sister, and I found something to argue about. Who got to sit in the front seat of the car, who’s turn it was to do dishes, what Monopoly deeds we’d trade, what TV program we’d watch. You name it, we argued about it.

Being the youngest, I learned pretty quickly that my best chance was to become the swing vote, siding with either my brother or my sister as circumstances demanded.

But arguing is stressful, as I’m sure my parents knew. Now I understand that arguing is in direct opposition to what God wants for believers. We’re supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves, and it’s pretty hard to do that when we’re complaining and arguing. I get it, but there are still too many times I don’t do what I get.

Since I started this short series by looking first at our response to God, then to those in governmental authority over us, I thought it might be good to consider another level of authority — that of our church leaders.

I know some Christians hardly think of their pastor or elders as being in authority over them — a sad state in the Church today. Instead, the pastor and worship leader seem to operate more like entertainers, doing whatever they can to keep the people coming. And the people act just like those in an audience. They critique the performance, applauding at times, and … dare I say it? … grumbling at others.

I attend a wonderful church where I receive Biblical teaching and enjoy rich worship. And yet, from time to time, I find myself grumbling in my spirit. After all, the worship leaders and pastors aren’t me, so they don’t always do things the way I think they should. Sometimes it’s a difference in style; sometimes I think there’s a Biblical issue at play.

But who made me worship cop? Who elected me to represent the Holy Spirit? Going into critique mode when I’m in church is part of my argumentative spirit, part of the wickedness James says we need to put off.

Come to think of it, he also has some important words about complaining and arguing.

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. …

Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor? (James 4:1-3, 11-12)

If James says this about judging our neighbor, how does it apply to judging our pastor or our elders or our worship leaders?

Slowly I’m learning that when I find myself bristling about this issue or that, my reaction signals my need to repent.

I can and should pray for the leadership of my church. I’m even free to communicate with them in courteous and kind ways to express my thoughts. I am not free to grumble, even in my heart, or complain and argue about how the leadership is doing things.

I wonder how different church would be if we prayed more and argued and complained less.

Published in: on September 1, 2011 at 5:40 pm  Comments (5)  
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