So this study through Philippians is really kicking me butt. I’m realizing that I’m actually very selfish, lacking humility, doing things out of conceit (for empty glory), and just today, I discovered that I struggle immensely with complaining and disputing! I thoroughly love God’s Holy Word, but sometimes it really hurts. It hurts to see how far I am from walking blameless. It’s a good hurt. But painful nonetheless.
“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” Philippians 2:14-15
The world’s definition of complaining is, “to express grief, pain, or discontent” (Merriam-Webster). This, in itself, is bad enough. But the Apostle Paul takes this term once step further. “The Greek word for ‘complaining’… is an emotional rejection of God’s providence, will, and circumstances for one’s life” (MacArthur). So in essence, to complain is to express sadness, agony, or great displeasure over God’s perfect wisdom, foresight, resolve, and circumstances in my life. But that’s not all. Paul also includes the word “disputing” which in the Greek is a more intellectual questioning or criticism of God because of life’s circumstances. Therefore, when I am in the midst of a trial, crisis, tragedy, or even just petty annoyances, not only do I respond emotionally in a sinful way to God, but I intellectually respond to Him with self-centered negativity. To quote Marty McFly, “that’s heavy!” What kind of person has this attitude towards a Great and Holy God? Well, if I’m honest, I’d have to say… me.
When my finances are a wreck and I can’t see how we’re going to pay this month’s bills, I don’t immediately look to God with trust that He will provide. Usually I get overcome with anxiety and worry; then I cry and argue with my husband about who’s the worst spender. My reaction to our finances is a direct correlation to my acceptance of God’s providence, will, and circumstances for my life. Perhaps God is trying to teach us how to be better stewards, how to trust and lean on Him more, how to be more generous with our giving, how to work together in unity with our finances. But in my complaints and disputes, I basically tell God that whatever purpose He has for my trial is not good enough and that I am greatly displeased and discontent with not only my circumstances, but with my God.
When I learned that I was having twins and I become greatly ill, I didn’t immediately look to God and trust that He would comfort me, heal me, and give me strength. Instead I was overcome with depression, fear, and anger. Depressed, because I was unable to do my day-to-day duties as a mother and wife. Feeling as though I was a failure. Fearful that my husband would be disgusted by my illness and my growing belly, and would return to his sinful past. Feeling as though everything we’d work so hard for was going to unravel because of these new babies. Angry because I felt so sick, so tired; at times unable to even shower by myself. Why does pregnancy have to be so difficult for me? Why can’t I enjoy pregnancy like so many other women do? Why do I have to suffer? My reaction to this pregnancy is a direct correlation to my acceptance of God’s providence, will, and circumstances for my life. God has granted us a great miracle, the blessing of new life. Not only once, but twice. The precious gift of two new children soon to be added to our family; two new children that we can love and nurture, teaching to serve others and love the Lord. But in my complaints and disputes, I basically told God that his gift to us wasn’t wanted. That I was greatly displeased and discontent with not only the new lives inside me, but with my God.
And then there’s that major life crisis… the pain of healing from the betrayal of my spouse. Gavin’s sexual sin was understandably devastating to me. And, though I did seek God for healing and restoration, there are still days that I am overcome by insecurity, sadness, and anger. How could this happen? Why didn’t God deliver Gavin any of the many times he pleaded for Him to? I didn’t do anything to deserve all this pain. Why does pornography have to be a part of our story? My reaction to the suffering in my marriage is a direct correlation to my acceptance of God’s providence, will, and circumstances for my life. No, God did not cause Gavin to commit sexual sin. BUT, He did purpose to use Gavin’s disobedience and subsequent repentance to draw us both into a more intimate relationship with Christ. To bring restoration to our marriage and teach us to serve and minister to each other. To grow our character and increase our compassion for others who are hurting and wounded. And although it is expected that I would mourn the losses in my marriage due to sexual sin, and I would justifiably be saddened by my husband’s choices, my suffering is not in vain. But in my complaints and disputes, I basically tell God that His purposes for this crisis in my life are unacceptable; that His providence is not what’s best for me. That I am greatly displeased and discontent with not only my circumstances, but with my God.
I have been seriously convicted today. I have offended my God. How could I be so selfish? How could I think, in my finite, sinful heart, that I know what’s better for me than God does? Whether it’s in major life crisis and tragedy or whether it’s in petty annoyances or trials… God has a purpose. In His providence, He is always teaching me and growing me. Molding me closer and closer into the woman I was created to be. And when I respond to God with complaints and disputes, I am in sin. There is never a time when it is appropriate to grumble or dispute God. There is never a time when it is okay to question God’s goodness and power. This may be one of the single most dangerous sins in a Christian’s life. It only leads believers to lose trust in God’s sovereignty and create a great divide in their intimacy with Christ. And to be honest, this may be my greatest struggle. The Apostle Paul says later,
“I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content; I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things, I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound, and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13).
I think many people often misuse vs. 13. It’s not saying that whatever I want to do, I can do because Christ will help me. No. Not all. It’s saying no matter what I go through in life, no matter the trial, no matter if it’s in loss or in gain, I can overcome it because Christ gives me the strength to get through. And He doesn’t just help me “get by,” but He gives me the strength to do so without complaining and disputing, without being selfish or doing things out of conceit, and to do so with humility. I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.
Walking in Freedom,
Ps. I am doing a twelve week, verse-by-verse study of Philippians by John MacArthur and it is excellent! I highly recommend it!!
Tags: ""philippians 2:14-15"" ""philippians 4:11-13"" complaining disputing grumbling ""god's providence""
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