Philippians on Friday: A Shining Light

Thanks for joining us today for our Friday devotion from Philippians!  We’re continuing our study of Chapter two, verses 14 and 15:

Philippians 2:14-15 – Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; KJV

In our last Philippians devotion we began dissecting this passage about murmuring and disputing. Do you remember the meaning of “murmur”?

Murmur: noun: mur·mur \ˈmər-mər\ – a half-suppressed or muttered complaint

PhilippiansOur last devotion focused on how nobody, including God, likes murmuring and complaining. In verse 15, Paul goes on to tell the Philippians that murmuring and disputing affect our standing with God and with others!

A clear connection exists between verses 14 and 15. Paul connects being blameless and harmless with refusing to murmur, complain or argue:

Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke…

The connection is obvious – if I’m a complainer and an arguer, I am not being blameless and harmless. If I murmur and argue, I am harmful and to be blamed (not above fault). If you want to stay blameless and harmless, don’t murmur. Don’t argue.

We are sons of God! And a characteristic of sons of God is they are not given to murmuring and disputing. We’re above that. We are representatives of the King. If we refrain from murmuring and disputing we are “without rebuke.” The obvious conclusion is those who do argue and complain are in need of rebuke!

Notice the words Paul uses: Murmur and dispute, then blameless and harmless. Not murmuring makes us blameless while not arguing makes us harmless. It sort of reminds me of the analogy questions on the SAT or ACT:

Graceful is to Clumsy as Hot is to _____________

The test may have been written like this:

Graceful : Clumsy :: Hot : ____

Paul is connecting murmuring with blame and disputing with harm. Being blameless is about your standing before God. Being harmless is about your standing with people. Do you see it?

Murmuring affects our standing with God (we are no longer blameless).  Arguing or disputing affects our interaction with people (we are no longer harmless). Murmuring is vertical. Disputing is horizontal.

Murmuring and arguing negatively affect our witness

Murmuring tarnishes our standing with God. We are no longer blameless before Him. Our Murmuring demonstrates our lack of faith in God’s sovereignty and trust in His goodness and love for us. It will affect our relationship with Him.

Disputing tarnishes our standing with others. When we are given to disputing and arguing we are no longer harmless. We become one who does damage to the Body of Christ. Our relationships with others suffer harm.

Finally, Paul wraps up this passage to the Philippians about murmuring and arguing by reminding them that they were shining lights in a wicked and perverse generation:

…in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

Murmuring and arguing negatively affect our witness! How can I be a shining light Philippiansto this world if I’m always murmuring? Who’s going to listen to me talk about the goodness and grace of God if I’m always complaining about everything? Murmuring undermines my credibility. How can I encourage others to trust in God and believe that He is in control of our lives if I am always murmuring?

People don’t respond to arguing. Few people, if any, have ever been won to God through disputing. Being argumentative will hinder my effectiveness in sharing the Gospel with others. The message of this passage is clear: disputing does harm, not good.

There is another reason why those who murmur and argue are not shining lights to this world. Think about it – selfishness is at the heart of murmuring and arguing. People complain because things don’t go according to their wishes. People argue to defend themselves or their own way of thinking. Selfishness is at the root of murmuring and disputing. And selfish people aren’t geared to sharing. People who are focused on self are not usually focused on the world around them. Unfortunately, many don’t let their lights shine to those around them because they’re too busy arguing and complaining.

We are sons and daughters of God. Our lives are in His hands and His will. Let us lay aside murmuring and disputing that we may stand blameless before God and harmless before men. May your… “light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

~Matthew Ball

Philippians on Friday: Murmuring and Complaining

Thanks for joining me again for our Philippians on Friday devotion.  Today’s verse is about something that hits home with all of us: Murmuring and Complaining!

Philippians 2:14-15 – Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless…

Murmur: noun: mur·mur \ˈmər-mər\ – a half-suppressed or muttered complaint

Doesn’t that definition make you chuckle? It’s one of those things that’s funny and not funny at the same time. It’s humorous because we can all relate – especially if we have teenagers! The definition hits the nail on the head.

PhilippiansBut, while we may chuckle when hear the definition, it’s really not funny because no one likes to hear murmuring. No parent enjoys having to rebut a teenager’s half-suppressed, muttered complaint with a stern, “What did you say?”   No pastor looks forward to facing grumbling saints who are always complaining and never satisfied. No spouse finds peace in a household with a cantankerous husband or wife who finds fault with everything. No leader is inspired or motivated by disgruntled followers with critical spirits.

Murmuring and complaining is wearisome to the hearer. No one likes it – including God! Only three days after a miraculous deliverance from Egypt, Israel was already murmuring about a water shortage. They complained about having no food then complained when they were soon tired of heavenly manna. They murmured against Moses, they murmured against Aaron and they even murmured against God.

There is always something that we could complain about. But we have a choice – we can choose to trust God and refrain from complaining.

God became so wearied by their complaining that He sent fiery serpents to afflict them. On another occasion, God told Moses to stand aside because He was going to utterly destroy Israel because of their constant murmuring. Moses is a better man than me – I may have been more compliant with God’s command! Fortunately for Israel, Moses interceded for them and besought God to show mercy rather than judgment.

I don’t see how God’s feelings about murmuring and complaining are any different today. Certainly and thankfully, in this dispensation of Grace, God’s mercy and patience trump judgment and wrath. But is God no less wearied today by our murmuring and complaining?

no complainingMurmuring and complaining are an offense to faith and trust. When I grumble, I’m basically saying I don’t believe God is in control or that He is ordering my steps. When I murmur and complain I am essentially accusing God of not knowing what He is doing. Murmuring and complaining reveal a lack of trust. When I murmur and complain against the spiritual leaders God has placed over me, I am rebelling against God’s order. Murmuring and complaining are the antithesis of many of the Godly virtues I’m supposed to be demonstrating: patience, selflessness, thankfulness, temperance and submission.

Paul admonishes the Philippians, Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless…” (Philippians 2:14-15)

He is encouraging them (and us) not to fall into the ugly practice of murmuring and complaining. And it is certainly easy to fall into that trap! There is always something that we could complain about. But we have a choice – we can choose to trust God and refrain from complaining. We can choose to have faith that our lives are in His hands and keep our mouths shut when tempted to murmur against God or our spiritual leaders. It is a choice. Let’s take Paul’s advice to the Philippians and “do all things without murmuring…”

~Matthew Ball

Question:  Why do you think Paul ends this passage with “That ye may be blameless and harmless…?”  Feel free to leave a comment – I’d love to know your thoughts on this!