“Do everything without complaining or arguing” Philippians 2:14
When I think of all the things that sometimes give me reason to complain like ….. other drivers on the road, service at a restaurant or store, the way my spouse does something or does not do something, etc, etc. I wonder how I could possibly not complain? This verse really challenges the way I react and also how I approach some situations. Because it caught my attention, it motivated me think about the context that it was written. So I decided to explore what the author was writing about when he made the "no more complaining or arguing" statement.
It didn’t take much research to realize that Paul was living out this verse as he wrote this letter. Paul was a prisoner in Rome as he wrote this letter to this group of people that he had visited on his 2nd ministry journey. The church at Philippi was one that was established and even had structured leadership with overseers and deacons (1:1). This makes me think of our church, and the many churches in our community that have been established for some time. Each of us in church has heard the Bible’s message and have been taught about Jesus Christ. His sacrifice in coming to earth, leaving the awesome glory of heaven, and dying on a cross is one that goes beyond our comprehension. He elevated the needs of others and put aside all that was normal for Him, in order to provide for humanity. Jesus didn’t complain or even argue with God about coming here to save us. It is necessary to hear about Jesus’ sacrifice, because it is in this context that Paul writes this verse about complaining or arguing. Check out what Paul was writing to the believers at Philippi. In the second chapter we get a clear picture of the motivation for Paul’s suggestion:
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!
I can easily slip so far from the model of Jesus. I have the propensity to complain when I have to get up and shut a door that was left open, or turn out lights that have been left on for minutes with no one in the room. I can argue with changes in schedule which affect my routine. I could fill this post with more examples but hopefully you get the point. Do you recognize a complaining and argumentative attitude in your life?
Jesus’ example of life without sin, void of selfish living, is the one to which we strive to reach. Understand that we will never reach this perfect lifestyle, but also understand that our lifestyle should reflect Christ as much as possible. Paul writes this very thing as he continues in verse 15:
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 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.
I invite you to follow the example of Jesus. He was clear on His purpose of living and carried himself with a power that allowed Him to accomplish His mission without being bitter, complaining or arguing. Instead of setting a goal to never complain or argue for the remainder of your life, begin implementing a goal of changed behavior for an hour, or a day. It will make a difference in your life. A prayer for the ability to slow your speech, adjust your attitude, be filled with grace, and see people and things with “God-like eyes” will help us to accomplish this task. As the Bible states, “with man, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.” Be encouraged that your choice to not argue or complain, even though you feel like doing so, will be a witness for Christ and an opportunity to share Jesus’ name as the pattern for your changed behavior! May the Holy Spirit empower us today to have the attitude of Christ!