Monday, August 10, 2020

The Problem of Grumbling

"Do everything without complaining or arguing" (Philippians 2:14)

Paul told the Philippians to work out their salvation with fear and trembling, counting on God’s working within them to perfect them (Philippians 2:12–13). The Christian life is not a matter of “letting go and letting God.” “Yieldedness” is not a Christian virtue; the virtue is obedience, and obedience takes effort. If we obey, then of course we will “yield” our will to the revealed law of God; but lying around and being “yielded” has nothing to do with the Christian’s life of obediently following the Savior.

Paul went on to say that we should do everything without grumbling against God and without arguing amongst ourselves. We should do this so that we mature, even in the midst of a perverse generation. Then he said that he would soon to die, poured out as a drink offering, and hoped that he would have the joy of seeing the Philippians persevere (Philippians 2:14–18).

We are reminded of Moses. For forty years, Moses led a perverse generation through the wilderness. For forty years, these people grumbled and murmured against God over and over again. For forty years they argued with Moses and Aaron. But in the midst of all this, a new generation grew up that was faithful, and Moses, just before his death, had the joy of seeing that new generation poised to enter the Promised Land. This was how Paul felt and what he looked forward to.

Grumbling is a real problem for us. When we grumble, what we are saying to God is that He, in His infinite goodness and wisdom, is not treating us fairly. We are saying that we deserve better at His hands. Of course, we don’t come right out and say this because we know better; so we just grumble quietly to ourselves and gripe at the members of our family about all kinds of little things.

Grumbling is the opposite of the sacrificial mentality Paul taught the Philippians in the first part of chapter 2. If we embrace the privilege of suffering, of becoming “drink offerings” ourselves, then we should not be prone to grumble. If we truly esteem others better than ourselves, we will not grumble when they are promoted ahead of us. If we live for Christ’s service alone, we will not be murmurers.

There is a dangerous movement afoot in the church wherein, in the name of “honesty,” we are actually encouraged to grumble against God. To do so is to claim greater wisdom than God. Lay claim to the promise God graciously gives in Romans 8:28 and strive to silence your grumbling.