Do all things without grumbling or disputing.
Resolution: I resolve to not grumble or complain against things in my heart or out loud to those around me. I resolve, instead, to speak thankfulness when and where I can.
This may be one of the shortest verses in Philippians, yet it delivers a lot. It delivers more than what we may bargain for. As believers we can be guilty of copying the world around us in the most outrageous ways, such as slavery, but not everything is that blatant. Sometimes the way we copy seems small, appears subtle, but is dangerous to our witness for Christ Jesus.
I speak often about American culture, but I know no other culture to speak of, so there is that. I know that, as I look on social media, as I listen to conversations, whether it is Christians or those who do not trust in Christ, a common theme is often grumbling or complaining. We are quick to grumble about this, or grumble about that. I will jot down a quick list, and you give yourself one point for the following things you grumble or complain about throughout your day. It will be a fun game!
- Other people’s children
- Work/people at work
- Supervisor/whoever you answer to at work
- Society around you
- Things that do not work correctly in your house, car, job, etc./things that break in your house, car, job, etc.
Now, I believe there is a vast difference between grumbling/complaining and lamenting and poring our hearts out to God. The Israelites grumbled to God for not having meat in the Wilderness, though they did have food. There is a discontent with what God has provided in grumbling and complaining.
However, in lamenting and pouring our hearts out we are acknowledging the pain and hurt of our situation. If someone is being sex trafficked, we would not dare say that she or he be thankful and not be so negative about it! If someone just lost a spouse or a child, we would not expect them to walk around just thanking God.
Jesus Himself lamented when He cries out to Israel that He would have gathered them, but they would not come to Him.
There is space for lament and pain in the human experience. Lamenting comes from a heart of pain, struck by a fallen world. Grumbling and complaining comes from a heart of thanklessness, struck by discontent. It’s the difference between the single mother who anguishes over the fact that she cannot give her children more food, and the other woman across town who complains that her food did not come out fast enough at the restaurant.
So what do we do with this? We change our language. Jesus tells us that we are in the World, but not of the World. Peter says that we are a holy nation. In every geographical area Christians exist, there is a nation within a nation, a people within a people. As a distinct group, it should not be strange that our language is different from those around us. The Christian should be a creature of a different language in the World. Our speech should lack the grumbling and complaining we often hear around us. After all, our lives have been so touched by the Savior, that thankfulness rolls off the tongue with ease.