Originally posted on 12/24/15 on the GOC UCLA blog, which can be found here.
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 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, holding fast the word of life” – Philippians 2:14-16a
As I began working a full-time job and regularly spending much more time with unbelievers than fellow brothers and sisters, these verses have begun to stand out to me more than before. I see how much temptation there is to sin by complaining and how easily I dismiss this sin as “harmless”. There are so many things one can easily complain about – traffic, weather, work, class, other people, etc – and often it is easy to justify our complaints. But it is clear in James 2:10 that if we do not follow God’s word on one part, we are accountable to all of it. Any sin condemns us. So as I think about my own struggle with complaining, 3 things stand out to me in this passage of Philippians.
First, we are commanded to not complain. We are to “do all things without grumbling or disputing”. As I fought the temptation to complain, I was reminded that we are commanded not to do it. As believers we are to obey the commands given to us in Scripture. In John 15, we prove to be His disciples when we abide in His love (v7-9), and we abide in His love by keeping his commandments (v10). We prove ourselves to be disciples and show our love for the Lord when we obey. We obey because that is consistent with who we are as children of God.
Second, our testimonies as children of God shine as a light in the world when we do not complain. Paul goes so far as to say we appear as “blameless and innocent” and “without blemish”. This is the point that has been impressed upon my mind the most lately. Spending 9+ hours a day with my coworkers has shown me how normal it is for people to complain and grumble. My experience does not make the Bible any more true, but this truth – that we stand out from the world by not complaining – means more to me now that I see how much we really do stand out. My coworker often comments on my lack of complaining as she contrasts me with her own constant complaining. I am thankful that God has guarded my thoughts and speech so that I may stand out as a light in the office. It is out of the ordinary, when we as children of God do not complain along with the world.
Third, we do all things as we hold fast the word of life. We often complain because we forget. We forget that God, in His love, chose us and called us out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). We forget that God supplies all our needs (Philippians 4:19), that He is working all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). But as we hold fast to the word, we are constantly reminded of these truths, of the glory of God in His character and attributes, and of our sinfulness and God’s grace. When we consider who God is and how He loves us, we turn to thankfulness rather than grumbling.
So as we are tempted to complain, look instead to the truths and promises in Scripture; we can look forward to the eternity we have in Christ. Remember your status as a child of God, how you are to shine as lights, and the eternal glory we can look forward to according to the truths in Scripture.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18