Sermon: All Things Without Grumbling (Philippians 2:14-18)

All Things Without Grumbling

Philip. 2:14-18 (ESV)

Do all things without grumbling or questioning,  [15] that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,  [16] holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.  [17] Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.  [18] Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

Grumble, Gripe, Bellyache, Whine Complain, Carp, Protest, Moan, Object, Nitpick all these words are used to describe a chronic human condition, a condition that not only affects the one doing it but also affects many others around them.

Have you ever been guilty of grumbling and complaining?

On a website that was basically all about complaining, folks were asked this question:

Why do people complain when they work, but when they don’t have a job they still complain?

The answer they picked as the best:

Because most of us are stuck in jobs we hate. We work to live not live to work. We complain coz we hate our jobs and if not working we complain coz we need money. It is a catch22 situation.

If we’re not careful we can all find ourselves grumbling even at the tiniest thing.

Complaining starts almost immediately after we’re born and continues throughout our lives.  Even before we can put it into words we put it into crying and screaming.  As children, we complained about vegetables and dressing up. As adults we complain because our wait is too long, our food isn’t exactly like we want it…etc.

Then there are the various ways we grumble.  Some folks voice their complaints while others mumble under their voice and still others grumble on the inside only.  What is grumbling and complaining…really?  Are we really caught in catch22 situations and our only response is to grumble?  Is grumbling all that bad anyway?

We may not think that the sins of the tongue are all that bad; however, we must understand that the writers of Scripture place them right up there with sins like murder, adultery, stealing, and others.  Grumbling is no small thing.  It is a sin that must be worked on and through God’s power, over come.

It’s not by accident that Paul, just as soon as he writes that we are to work out our own salvation, brings this sin to the immediate forefront.  This is an area that affects most people, including most Christians.

The Bible is full of complainers.  The first complainer was the first man.  Adam complained to God.  He told God that it was God’s fault that Adam sinned.

Genesis 3:12 (ESV)

The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

Sinners, when confronted with sin, will turn on you in a second.  Adam shows us what is at the heart of grumbling and complaining.

Complaining is a selfish mindset that declares, I’m not getting what I want and what I deserve. Because this is done in the realm of God’s sovereignty, what we are really saying is, God, You’re not being good to me.

We have learned this very well from our first parent, Adam.

It becomes evident why Paul tells the early Christians and tells us, the Apostle hits the sin of grumbling because it affects everything.  Grumbling is a sin of the tongue that permeates the very person we are and impacts our ability to bring God glory.

When we complain we are telling God that we’re not at all happy with our circumstances and that He is to blame.

1. The Extent of the Command (Philippians 2:14)

Do all things without grumbling or questioning,

This is the attitude all believers should have as they work out their salvation.  In other words, if we are to grow in Christ-likeness we must do all things without complaining.

Here is a biblical example and notice that the workers were complain about their wages but mostly complaining that they were being treated unfairly.

Matthew 20:1-15 (ESV)

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.  [2] After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.  [3] And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace,  [4] and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’  [5] So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same.  [6] And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’  [7] They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’  [8] And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’  [9] And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius.  [10] Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius.  [11] And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house,  [12] saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’  [13] But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?  [14] Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you.  [15] Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’

Their complaint was that they were not treated fairly.  However, the landowner was being generous with his possessions.  He paid those first hired what they agreed on.  It’s when we think we’re being treated poorly by someone else or by God we begin to complain.

We are to do everything without grumbling or questioning…

I remember an example of someone grumbling and questioning at Bible College.  We were in English class and the complaint was made vocal…Why do we have to learn this for?

This was questioning.  It was a disputing type question.  The answer was within the question.

The Apostle’s command is that we are to do everything without complaining.  Taking out the trash or going on vacation should both be done with the same attitude.

I’m not to complain…ever.  There is nothing that happens where complaining is an appropriate response.

Thankfulness is an appropriate response.

Notice the contrast here in this verse.

1 Thes. 5:18 (ESV)

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Our brains must be thinking and our mouths usually moving so something has to be thought about and be said…rather than grumbling, be thankful.

Thankfulness is viewing things with the right perspective.  Thankfulness is the right response to our sovereign God.

Americans are the most pampered and spoiled people.  We are the biggest whiners too.

Take this paragraph dealing with the topic of the Nintendo Wii as an example,

The system doesn’t have enough ’hardcore’ games.  There aren’t enough racing games.  It’s a gimmick console.  There aren’t enough new games coming out.  It isn’t HD.  The graphics are barely better than the PS2

The problem isn’t the game console the problem is American’s are spoiled and chronic grumblers.

My response as a parent to that kind of grumbling is to turn off TV for a week, unplug all the consoles and then after an elapsed period of time the Nintendo Wii’s graphics would probably seem a whole lot better.

Don’t complain but give thanks…

This may seem minor when thinking about a game console; however, the same attitude can be and is transferred to much more serious issues.

Paul’s concern was that this church would continue to flourish in unity and not be characterized by divisions.  He told them to strive for humility and do all things without complaining.

2. The Reasons for the Command (Philippians 2:15)

A. Shine in a Dark World

[15] that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

There is another place in the Bible that this exact language is used and most theologians believe Paul has captured it here in this verse.  He does it with twist.

In Deuteronomy 32 the Israelites because of their constant complaining were called a crooked and twisted generation.

Deut. 32:4-5 (ESV)

“The Rock, his work is perfect,

for all his ways are justice.

A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,

just and upright is he.

[5] They have dealt corruptly with him;

they are no longer his children because they are blemished;

they are a crooked and twisted generation.

Numbers 14:27 “How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me.

What was the bulk of their grumbling?  We wish we had onions to eat instead of manna.  We wish we were slaves in Egypt instead of walking around in this wilderness.

God took it personal.  What God heard was, we detest this food You give us and we don’t like being with you but would rather be slaves.

When we complain we are doing much the same thing.

In the day of Moses, God called the Israelites a crooked and twisted generation.  All they did was complained.

Twisted- literally means warped.  Like a warped record that continually plays the same thing over and over.

We like onions…We like Egypt…We hate manna…We hate Moses…We like Bricks…

Finally, they complained one too many times.  They said we would rather die in this wilderness than go on with Moses.  God granted their request.

The reason we are to not grumble is because God is honored and the church will shine in the midst of darkness.

among whom you shine as lights in the world,

There will be a huge contrast between worldly grumblers and God’s people.  As we practice thanksgiving in all things it will be like we’re stars in the night sky.

You’ve no doubt seen the little candles lit up at Christmas time in windows.  During the day the light is really hard to see.  But at night those little 6 watt light bulbs seem very bright.

That’s how we’ll be as we practice not grumbling in any situation.

We will be pure and blameless in the middle of a warped and dark generation.

The twist the Apostle put on this text was that the Gentile believers in Philippi are God’s people not the unbelieving Jews.  God’s people have always been those who have exercised saving faith not Jewish descendants.  That’s what Paul gets at here.  The true Jew is the person who believes God not the person to trace their lineage back to Abraham.  Jesus said it and Paul said it.

B. They would be effective evangelists

[16] holding fast to the word of life,

If we are to be effective evangelists we must keep complaining out of the picture or at least to a minimum.  We are to stop complaining for the sake of those around us who are lost.  When we stop complaining we can better hold out the word of life or the gospel.

The idea goes like this:

Why would anyone be interested in hearing about your God when you’re so miserable all the time?  As Christians, we had better be the happiest folks around.  We had better enjoy and be satisfied with what God in His sovereignty has given us.  We are to stop complaining for the sake of those around us who truly are miserable and in desperate need of truth.

The next time you’re tempted to complain, ask yourself, why do I feel like complainingIs it because something didn’t go my way or I didn’t get what I want or felt I was entitled to?

Then immediately practice thanksgiving instead.  Thank the Lord that He is at work in and through the situation.  Thank Him for His provision and goodness to you.

The more you do this, the more glory the Lord will receive in your life and the more you will begin to take large steps toward Christ-likeness.

In the end, your complaining will turn to rejoicing…

[18] Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

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