“Do everything without grumbling or arguing” – Philippians 2:14 (NIV).
When you read the gospels, you can’t help but notice how often the people around Jesus are grumbling. When tax collectors and other notorious sinners come to listen to Jesus the scriptures say, “And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’” (Luke 15:2 ESV). When Jesus invites Zaccheus down from the tree and invites himself to dinner the crowd grumbles that Jesus would go to the home of a sinner. (Luke 19:7) When He cures on the Sabbath (Mark 3) or eats grain from a field, (Matthew 12) the religious leaders grumble. During the Bread of Life discourse in John’s gospel (John 6:22:59), it says, “So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.’” (Vs 41 ESV) See the pattern
People always seemed ready to grumble. Yet, Jesus is amazingly patient with His challengers. Jesus doesn’t grumble back. Only one person could – and that was Jesus. But for the rest of us, Philippians 2:14 is one of the most difficult scriptures in the Bible. Who doesn’t complain (NLT), grumble (NIV) or murmur (KJV), bicker or second guess (MSG)?
We’ve all experienced people who were known more for their grumbling than their gratitude; people who complain about everything. We all have Facebook friends who seem to only post complaints about their lives. And we all know people with an oh-woe-is-me attitude. We have probably been that person at one time or another. It is so easy to start complaining and then before long we are complaining more than we think and we become known as a “grumbler.”
We want to do everything without grumbling and arguing because we can’t complain and rejoice at the same time. As followers of Jesus, we should be rejoicing. Paul says, “Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16 ESV). If you are one of those people who are always complaining, you’re also one of those people who are never rejoicing because you can’t do them both at the same time. In addition, you can’t complain and be grateful at the same time. We have so much to be grateful for. Even though we deserve an eternity separated from God, a home is prepared for us in Heaven. We have a relationship with the same Jesus that Paul knew. We can wake up on any given morning and have fellowship with the Son of God. This is something no world religion can relate to. We have the privilege of communing with the God of the universe over coffee. I hope we never stop being in awe of this life-changing truth.
I was at a fast food restaurant waiting for my lunch appointment to arrive. I couldn’t happen to notice an employee who just stood out. He was smiling and quietly singing “Only Wanna Sing” by Hillsong Young and Free. The smile never disappeared nor did the song on his lips as he worked his way through the complete mess a family of five made. He doesn’t complain or roll his eyes when he picks up the trash off the floor and wipes the ketchup smears off the chairs. He says hi to each customer that walks by him. By refusing to grumble he is showing what it means to live like Jesus.
- Why do you think it is so easy to default into complaining?
- How could being thankful mitigate our tendency to complain?
- If you really want to stop complaining, what are some first steps you can take?