“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you as you hold out the word of life- in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing” (Philippians 2:14-16).
What a sentence and proclamation to each of us. So how are you doing? I personally struggle with complaining and arguing or grumbling, another favorite warning word in Scripture. So how bad is it? Well, in Exodus, God exterminated all of a generation for grumbling. The next generation had to carry on through the desert to the Promised Land. Sounds a lot like the Genesis story of Noah as God’s wrath poured out on all except one family and the animals on the ark. You see back then and in Moses time and now it seems no one takes God seriously about our propensity to complain about everything. Being discontent with God’s will is an expression of unbelief that prevents one from doing what pleases God.
I don’t know about you, but I had forgotten how seriously God takes this attitude of grumbling and complaining. In James 5:9, Jesus’s brother reminds us again that if we grumble about each other God will judge us. He says to be patient and persevere, standing firm in the faith. I should not need any more warnings even though I might have reason to complain. Just look at the rest of the Philippians verse. God wants us to be blameless in a “crooked” generation. I just can’t help but laugh at how relevant Scripture is as we look at this vapid election cycle. Presidential candidates are referring to “crooked” politicians constantly, even as they lie about themselves and others. It is a very sad commentary on our times, a condition that has existed since time immemorial. So what does God want us to do?
God wants us to “shine like stars in the universe” as we proclaim the truth in God’s word of life from the Bible. What a personification of contrast. As I road my bike this morning in the predawn darkness I gazed at the stars shining above me. They extend for billions of miles across God’s creation and are held together by Jesus Christ Himself as Colossians 1 tells us. They stand out. That’s what God wants us to do. Be different, a contrast to the generation around us. That’s simple but difficult because it takes courage. People will complain and grumble about you being “holier than thou.” It has been said that St. Augustine once proclaimed, “preach the gospel at all times and if you must use words.” However, if we review Paul’s admonition above, we are reminded to use God’s word of life so that we may become blameless and faultless in this depraved world. We are commanded by Jesus Christ’s last words before leaving earth to “Go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them everything…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). This is the “Great Commission.” Get it, we must use words from Scripture for they “will not return void but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). We must be prepared to speak or “preach” the word in and out of season as 2 Timothy 4:2 teaches. We are to teach and encourage and correct with careful and great patience because people just don’t want to hear the truth. You see for a generation our society has said, “there is no truth.” But as Christians, we know better. Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).
So, how do we keep from complaining?
· Proclaim the truth
· Don’t dwell on negative or dark things, but stay in the light
· Practice being at peace with everyone as much as it depends upon you.
· Don’t argue
· Encourage one another
· Read and memorize Scripture
· Stay away from negative or complaining people
· Pray continually, praise God and give thanks in all things
· Confess your complaining and grumbling to God
· Love one another
OK, there are 1000s of Scriptures that tell us how to live. So, keep reading and speaking the Word of God.