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Lesson Ten: Stop complaining, start shining, Phil. 2: 14-16

March 23, 2020

READ Phil. 2:14-16. As human beings we are prone to complain. We complain about slow service, cold food, self-service checkouts, bad drivers, preachers who preach too long and internet that runs too slow.

Now sometimes we have a right to complain. It is only fair that we get what we pay for. We should also stand up for our rights as citizens of this country. Paul certainly did not hesitate to insist and argue for his rights in Acts 16, when he and Silas were unfairly beaten without due process. This was a violation of their rights as Roman citizens.

But, we as Christians should never complain about what God asks us to do or to bear. This is in fact what Paul means in v.14 when he says, "Do all things without complaining or disputing." This is clear when we look back at verses 12 & 13 where Paul had previously asked them to, "Work out their own salvation with fear and trembling". He then states why they should do this in v. 13, "Because this is God's will for you to do for His pleasure". That is why Paul begins v.14 by stating "Do all things". Among "all things" is to "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling."

Complaining goes against the model that God has given us through Jesus Christ in Phil. 2:5-8. After all, Jesus let go of His rights as God that we might be saved by His sacrifice. In addition to not complaining to God, or about God, we must not complain or grumble to our brethren. In 1 Pe. 4:9, "Be hospitable to one another without grumbling." Grumbling to your brothers and sisters can spread a quality to them that God disapproves of.

Also, we should never complain in the presence of non-believers. Paul gives us a positive model of how we should speak to those outside the body of Christ in Col. 4:5,6, "Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one." We are obligated to always present Jesus and His church in a positive light.

There are four points we need to make about grumbling or complaining. Each is Scripturally based. After all, the Scriptures represent God's truth and not our opinions.

First God does not care for our grumbling against His will for us. The Old Testament gives us the example of how God dealt with Israel when they grumbled against Him. They continually grumbled against God and Moses, His spokesman. So in 1 Cor. 10:10, Paul tells us the outcome of their complaining, "nor complain as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer." If you go back to 10:5, Paul states, "But with most of them God was not well pleased; for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness." In 10:11 we are told that Israel's history is recorded "as an admonition for us." So don't complain for God's sake.

We also should stop complaining for our sakes. Because we need to become children of God. Eph. 5:1, "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children." Children imitate their parents. It's only natural. In v.15 Paul tells us that we should, "become blameless and harmless children of God." The two Greek words rendered "blameless" and :harmless" in the NKJV actually mean "holy" and "innocent or pure". God desires us to be holy as in 2 Pe. 3:11. He also desires us to be pure or chaste as in 2 Cor. 11:2. This is God's will for us and we should not complain or resist God's will in this matter.

Thirdly, we should stop complaining for the world's sake. Look again at verse 15., we are "in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation." It is among this "crooked and perverse generation" that we are called to "shine as lights" to the world. Jesus has commissioned every believer to be an evangelist, so that we might make "disciples of all nations." (Mt. 28:19) The world needs the Gospel that we have to offer. (Rom. 1:16) Because it alone is the "power" of salvation. We have this "power". But we also have the "proof" of God's salvation that shines through us. This is our changed lives. In 2 Cor. 4:6, "For it is the God that commanded light to shine out of the darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus." We are the face of Christ Jesus to a dying and lost world. Stop complaining for their sake.

Finally in v.16 Paul reminds them to stop complaining for his sake. Paul was their teacher. He brought the Gospel to them and is writing to instruct them. Paul wants to be able "to rejoice in the day of Christ" because they will be found faithful and pleasing to God. He does not want to think that he has "labored in vain".

In Eph. 4:11-13 Paul tells us that Jesus Himself has given us earthly teachers for two purposes; 1.) to equip you for ministry, and 2.) bring you to the fullness of the stature of Christ. One day your earthly teacher will have to stand before Christ and his work will be tested by Christ. (1 Cor. 3:10-15) They take every loss personally, just as Paul did. Every soul that has wandered from the truth is a loss. So for the sake of your teacher stop complaining and start shining!

Study Questions

1. According to 1 Cor. 10:10, What happened to the Israelites who complained against God?

2. In the Greek text of Phil. 2:15 what are the meanings of the words "blameless" and "harmless"?

3. What two words did Paul use to describe the generation (world) in which the Philippians lived in Phil. 2:15?

4. If the Gospel is the "power" of our salvation (Rom. 1:16), then our example to the non-

believer must be the ___________________ of our salvation.

5. What was Paul's fear in Phil. 2:16?

6. According to 1 Cor. 3:13, the Christian builder or minister's work will be "revealed by fire and

the ________________ will ____________________ each one's _________________.

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