The Expository Files

 Performing & Complaining

Philippians 2:14

"Do all things without murmuring and disputing,".

There is an attitude or spirit that can develop within us, of performing duty but complaining every step of the way. This kind of misbehavior is common among children, who do their chores or pick up the toys, but argue and complain while doing the job. They do the job (usually halfway) but with an expressive, grudging spirit. The work is punctuated by constant bickering, complaining and protest (sometimes prominently displayed in the countenance).

Such immaturity has become the habitual comportment of some adults. They come to the church building; they partake of the Lord's Supper; they give - even if a token amount, since they disagree with the budget; they refrain from "the big sins," and may help folks when opportunity is unavoidable. Yet most of this performance of duty is accompanied by conspicuous grumbling. (The word "murmurings" in this text is often used in the Septuagint, of the murmurings of the Israelites during their wanderings.)

We ought to be very happy to do all God has instructed us to do, including the difficult, challenging assignments and the necessary patience with our brethren. If there are real offenses or problems people create, the New Testament tells us how to deal with those things, promptly and properly. To let yourself slip into the habit of constant picking, bickering and protest is unpleasant, unsociable, ungodly and unproductive. Consider just that last observation: unproductive. No good is accomplished! When we complain, argue and spread pessimisms, no spiritual good is accomplished.

We ought to maintain a cheerful, willing mind, as we do what God has instructed. "Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life..." (Phil. 2:14-16a).

"It is their duty to be cheerful, to render to God a loving service. A Christian who knows that the Son of God loved him and gave himself for him, has no right to be gloomy and melancholy. There must be no murmurings. The Christian life is a pilgrimage, like the journey of the Israelites from the house of bondage to the promised land, but we must not resemble the Israelites in their constant murmurings against God. Do all things, each duty as it comes, without murmuring. Have a steadfast faith in God as your Father, 'who maketh all things work together for good to them that love him;' and in the trustful spirit of a loving faith learn to say, 'Thy will be done.' Neither should there be doubtings in the Christian life. The intellect, as well as the will, must submit itself. Our knowledge is imperfect, our mental reach is limited; we can see only a very little way into the mysteries of the Divine government; we know in part. We must be content with that partial knowledge; we must not venture to question the love, the goodness, the wisdom of God. When harassing doubts arise, we must go, like Asaph the psalmist, into the house of God; then we shall understand as much as we need to know of God's dealings with mankind. These things are hidden from the wise and prudent, but they are revealed unto babes." {From Pulpit Commentary, Phil. 2:14}.

By Warren E. Berkley
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From Expository Files 9-9; September 2002