Philippians 2:14–15 (ESV) — 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 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,
Grumbling is not located in saying “ouch” when something hurts, or making our distresses known. The Psalms are full of David (and others) doing that very thing. No, grumbling is that tendency to let our distresses cross over into accusing God of mistreatment in our difficulties. When we enter that realm, accusing Him, we enter the most dangerous of territories.
But note well how grumbling over God’s providences and appointments, also includes disputing with others. For when you are irritated, you are irritated. It is like listening to the radio – if you turn the volume up or down on any one channel, you turn it up or down on all of them. So it is when we allow ourselves to be agitated toward either God or man, we will also be irritated with the other. They are always linked. And in all honesty, most of our disputes with men arise out of our discontent with God’s arrangements in bringing them and their brokenness into our lives. We want Him to bring us nice people. People we like. People we agree with and they with us. People who demand nothing of us and who enhance our lives. People who share our likes and dislikes, as well as our views on everything from theology to politics to movies and pass times.
When we are most enraged at others, it is good to stop and ask if we are not also enraged at God for having to endure them. And perhaps, when we stop to consider them in that light, we will also stop and pray for them, rather than simply contend with them, or chafe at them.
For where does our text call us to do all things without grumbling or disputing? “In the midst of a crooked and twisted generation.”
Father God, give me such a heart. Let me learn to see the things which distress me in this crooked and twisted generation as focal points of prayer. And those who most annoy me as men and women who need your goodness and grace as desperately as I do.