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!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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