The Search for Joy
Exhortation to Triumph and Not Complain
Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
To do all things without murmuring or complaining is a command given by God but unfortunately, it is rarely obeyed by most Christians. Have you ever lost sight of the grace of God and found yourself grumbling against His provision? (I know that I have come to that place in my life and failed.) Murmuring is an expression of thanklessness and disobedience to God whether expressed openly or hidden secretly in the heart. We know what it sounds like––that low muffled tone of voice directed towards God or others in a negative light. Usually this is because something unpleasant, irritating, or distasteful has happened and we are not pleased by this interruption in our lives. A Christian is called to unquestioning obedience to God and therefore, must adhere to the command, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings,” Why? “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as light in the world.”
Paul is not necessarily talking about the Philippians’ murmuring against God Himself, but quarreling with one another within the church. When quarreling begins in the church, the worlds view of the church and Christ begins to pale becoming disgraceful and unacceptable. Our lives should not be characterized by sin or evil but, “blameless,” a life that is pure, wholesome and above reproach before God. This world that we live in is “crooked and perverse,” straying from the path that God has purposed as His standard. We as Christians must show the character of Christ in this dark unscrupulous culture––bringing the light of the Gospel to those who are lost and in bondage to sin.
One day, Christ will come again and we will either be found rejoicing in the work of the ministry or laboring in vanity and pride. To labor in vain means: to labor in uselessness with no purpose or fruit. We need to be able to look back on our lives and see that our laboring here on this earth was worthwhile and profitable to the glory of God. What determines effective labor in the life of a Christian? What did Paul say was the conversation or manner of living that is worthy of the gospel of Christ? “That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” Philippians 1:10,11,27.
Thought: We live in a society that is unhappy and loves to complain about what they don’t have when they have so much. We are breeding a generation of complainers because the more they have the more they want. It is a sin to complain against God, “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” (Romans 9:20) Complainers have a devastating effect on the church and their grumbling is contagious bringing anxiety, misery and discontentment with it. Be careful about complaining, for as Christians, we are to live consistently with who we are, “Be ye therefore followers [imitators] of God, as dear children” free from complaining to be all that God wants us to be. As God does His work in us, our part is not to murmur, complain or grumble against His working. God wants us to shine as lights in this dark world so that we may have a startling effect on the lost. The character of the Christian life is the truth on which we stand, a platform, from which we share our personal testimony of the Gospel of Christ.