We’re being reminded again this morning that Jesus has called us the salt of the earth and the light of the world. That’s who He says you are: salt & light. This morning, we’re again looking at a practical way in which we can be who Jesus says that we are.
I’ll admit that this is one that God kinda hurt my feelings with. If you feel the weight of conviction with this one, I’m right there with you. However, He only ever tears us down to build us back up correctly; to heal and restore us to be who we ought to be. Just to be sure that God gets the point across, we’re going to read this scripture from three different translations this morning.
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life.
Philippians 2:14-16a (NLT)
14 Do everything without complaining and arguing,15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. 16 Hold firmly to the word of life
Philippians 2:14-16 (MSG)
14-16 Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.
Grumbling and complaining is an extremely dangerous practice to participate in. It is a self-fulfilling and hope-killing practice that snuffs out our light in a heartbeat! It is also highly contagious. We’ve all been in that circle of people when the grumbling and complaining began and we fell right into its sneaky trap. Just ask Joshua and Caleb just how quickly grumbling and complaining can overtake a crowd and steer the destiny of them all!
If we take a look at the original Greek word here, we will quickly see why grumbling and complaining is so dangerous.
Grumbling/Complaining – goggysmos – a secret debate
Arguing/Bickering – dialogismos – the thinking of a man deliberating with himself – a doubtful hesitating, questioning about what is true
Essentially, when we grumble and complain, we are divided against ourselves and against God. That is what makes them self-fulfilling prophesies. Jesus told us that anything divided against itself would fail. Expecting the worse, generally speaking, will set us up to receive exactly that. James described a person who doubts as one who is double-minded and unstable in all that they do. This is precisely what someone who persistently grumbles and complains is. James also wrote that such a person should not expect to receive anything from God.
Think about it as a parent in the natural. Do the whines, moans, groans, complains, and grumbles of our children motivate our generosity toward them? Do they tug on the strings of our hearts so that we richly bless them with good things? NO! In fact, even when we had planned to give them the thing that they are whining for, we likely won’t give it to them. Why, then, would we think that our grumbling and complaining to God would release His blessing upon us?
Grumbling and complaining is an absolutely certain way not to receive the promises of God. They are a sure way to be certain that things will not get better. They are a sure way to set ourselves up against God, Himself. They are the grease that will take our feet out from under us and force us off of the firm rock and foundation of Jesus Christ down the slippery slopes of instability to sin that leads to death.
When we grumble and complain, we are essentially debating whether our lot in life is fair or deserved. We think that things ought to be going better for us than they are; that we deserve more. We begin to exalt ourselves and judge ourselves worthy of better.
We forget that the harsh truth and reality about us is that we are deserving of nothing more than hell itself. All that we have been given is a gift and blessing of God. Even the least one among us is wildly rich and prosperous in comparison to what we deserve.
Barb Reel had shared a revelation that came from the Bible study “Game Changers” written by Graham Cooke that pierced by heart and began to radically transform my perspective. It was essentially that grumbling and complaining are the praises of hell. They glorify the work of the enemy in our lives to steal, kill, and destroy.
Grumbling and complaining begins with a thought. That thought causes us to debate and question ourselves. Then, that thought is shared verbally with someone else familiar with our situation. Then, a group of individuals in a similar situation agree and rally together against what is agreed upon as a common enemy.
That’s why Paul wrote:
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Generally speaking, that prideful and arrogant “you deserve better” thought doesn’t usually come from the Holy Spirit. A determining factor in whether that thought is coming from God or not that I’ve always used as a guide in my own war raging in my thought life is this: “Does this thought cause another person or organization to become my enemy?”
If the “you deserve better” thought causes Satan to be labeled as my enemy and the thing that I deserve better is a promise of God, then I’m probably hearing from the Holy Spirit.
If the “you deserve better” thought causes a coworker, friend, employer, parent, etc to be labeled as my enemy and the thing that I deserve better is something that they possess that I’m jealous of, then I’m probably not hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit. I’m probably either hearing from Satan or just my own fleshy desires.
I’m sure that I’m not alone here when I say that 9 times out of 10, my “you deserve better” thought that leads me to grumble and complain falls into the latter category.
After all, if it falls into the first category, I’m not going to grumble and complain, I’m going to seek after my Heavenly Father and ask Him to give me what He has promised me. I’m going to praise Him and thank Him for His good and perfect gifts. I’m going to worship Him because, even though I know that I’m not worthy, He calls me worthy and considers me valuable enough to be deserving of all that He has to give; not even sparing His own Son for me!
We must learn to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ! If we learn to do this, then our grumbling and complaining will cease. After all, grumbling and complaining is NEVER the will of God for us, it is ALWAYS sin for us!
Yeah, that one hurts me pretty badly, too, but I need to hear it again so that I’m not quick to forget this truth!
Grumbling and complaining is NEVER the will of God for us, it is ALWAYS sin for us!
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
Grumbling and complaining darkens our mind. We begin to see only darkness and troubles. We begin to see only what everyone else has and not what I’ve been richly blessed with. Grumbling and complaining is a great way to have God’s promises and provision stolen away from us.
Think about Joseph’s brothers who were stuck in the famine while Joseph had an abundance, the entire nation of Israel that agreed with the testimony of 10 whiners over 2 believers, those complainers in Numbers 11 consumed by fire and also by a plague while the quail meat was still between their teeth, the ground that opened up and swallowed Korah and those who complained along with him, Ananias and Sapphira who thought that they deserved a bit of what they said they had given to God, the list goes on and on and on. We quickly see that before God, grumblers and complainers never win and it never ends well for them. In fact over and over again in His word, it was our grumbling that invoked the angry rage of God against us.
God, however, outright tells us the solution to grumbling and complaining:
27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
The solution to those grumbling and complaining thoughts is to know and to hear God; to put our hope in Him! God responded similarly to Habakkuk and Jeremiah as they complained to Him. He basically said, “I’m God.”
Grumbling and complaining invokes the angry rage of God. However, we also find that over and over again in God’s word, it is our hope, trust, and prayers that invoked the miraculous and impossible blessings of God. It is thanksgiving that brings the breakthrough.
1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
The solution to grumbling and complaining is to know that the Lord is God! He made us and we are His! We enter His gates not with moans, groans, complaints, and whines, but with THANKSGIVING and PRAISE! Why? Because He is good, His love endures forever, His faithfulness continues through all generations!
Our light and momentary troubles are nothing compared to all that God has promised us. His rich inheritance is awaiting us, but we won’t receive them by grumbling and complaining, but only by thanksgiving and praise. Why allow the enemy to steal away the very thing that we need? Why agree with anything that he has to say? Let’s shake him off and put him under our feet where he belongs and start to instead exalt and lift up Jesus and what He has to say!
As we transition into worship, let’s enter His gates with thanksgiving by remembering some of His promises. Wherever you are at, begin one-by-one to shout out a promise of God that we can all be thankful for. These are what we’ll cling to whenever we find ourselves in times of troubles, not to the troubles themselves, but on every one of God’s promises!