Through the Word in 2020 #67 July 3 / Deputies of Disputation?

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We’ve visited this issue before, and because the Word takes us there repeatedly, we will no doubt go there again – grumbling. It seems to be a national pass-time right now. Even among Christians. If we didn’t have the economy, politics, sports (or the lack thereof), the Corona virus or the public responses to it – I wonder if we’d have anything to talk – or post – about. Many of us seem to have more in common with Oscar the Grouch than with David the Worshiper. A bit more on that today on Through the Word in 2020 – I’m Reid Ferguson.
1 Chronicles 9:35–11:47; Philippians 2:12–18; Luke 4:31–37 are the passages before us today. And it is Paul’s admonition in Philippians 2:14-15 that rebukes my own soul today.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 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,
Chronic complaining and behind-the-scenes murmuring is a big issue in Scripture. Over 30 times it is cited as something which God has a low tolerance for – and that, in both testaments. And it is always cited in the context of God’s people being the grumblers. None of us have been deputized to be relentless disputers.
We need to note first here that grumbling is not located in simply saying “ouch” when something hurts, or making our distresses known. That’s legitimate.
Chronic grumbling eventually crosses over into accusing God of mistreatment in our difficulties. We look at our providential circumstances, and rather than acknowledging God’s goodness in the midst of these providences, however negative they may be – we leave that aspect missing. Then we enter that realm, accusing Him. Overtly or by implication. And we enter the most dangerous of territories.
But note well how grumbling over God’s providences and appointments, connects with disputing with others. For when we are irritated, we 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 usually, in some capacity, 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.” When we abandon grumbling in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation – there – we shine as lights in the world. And it is at this point we cease to be salt and light as we were called to by Jesus if we take up grumbling.
There is nothing wrong with acknowledging wrong. There is something wrong about living there. Carrying the low-grade fever of underlying irritation. There is something seriously wrong – with grumbling. It extinguishes our light.
Consider that today Christian.
God willing, we’ll be back Monday.

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