On Sunday, in our ladies' class, we discussed Philippians 2:14-17. After Paul reminds the Philippians to work out their salvation with fear and trembling, and encourages them with the reality that it is God who works and wills in them to do so, he follows up with an exhortation:
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocence, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights of the world, 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 labour in vain.
When I compared the NIV and the NASB, the word "grumbling" was consistent with the ESV. The word "disputing" in the ESV is "arguing" in the NIV. The word "grumbling" carries with it the idea of murmuring. What is the difference between murmuring and just objecting or critiquing? Well, murmuring is usually that thing we do when we want to conceal our displeasure, or perhaps we're afraid to come right out and say what we think. Perhaps it's what we do when we're sitting in a church business meeting, and we're not happy about the fact that something is being changed. Our kids know what grumbling and murmuring is. That is the thing they do when they're not happy that they must interrupt their play, pick up their toys, and get ready to eat their dinner.
We all grumble. Maybe those around us don't hear, and maybe they do. God hears it, though. In my study book, Joy!, the student is referred to Numbers 11:1-15 to remind us what God thinks about grumbling. It kindled his anger against the Israelites.
Aside from the fact of God's displeasure, if we are grumbling it means our mouths are not full of praise and worship. Grumbling means that we are not bearing forth with our mouths God's precious Word. Grumbling, whether it's about the fact that our neighbour has wronged us, or that we're fed up with how much snow we got this winter, is an evidence that we are not thanking God for His goodness.
I am not always a positive person. I do tend to see the downside of something first. In some situations, that has been a helpful thing in our family and in various areas where I have served. But a constant diet of that will annoy everyone. Grumbling and muttering is contagious, especially with a group of women. Some of you know what I mean. No one wants to be around someone who grumbles a lot. It's more than being like Eyeore. At least he's kind of cute. Grumbling is what Paul wants them not to do because to do that means the Philippians can't do what he asked them to do earlier in chapter 2, to be of one mind, to be unified. Grumbling, at its core, is about me, not about anyone else, and it's certainly not about God. How can there be unity in Christ if we're all grumbling about our personal pet peeves?
I need a reminder daily to spit out my grumbling, because when my mouth is full of grumbling, there is no room for praising Him.