Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
(Philippians 2:14-16 ESV)
Over the past couple of days we’ve read Paul exhortation to the Philippians to continue to grow in the Spirit in order to produce unity within their church through humility. In today’s passage he gives them some practical advice on how to do this.
We’ve already read that the church in Philippi had some internal disputes [Philippians 2:1-4]. Here Paul is telling them that they need to stop arguing with each other.
The Greek word translated “grumbling” means “to murmur under one’s breath”. This is an internal discontent. These are the arguments we have in our head. The Greek word translated “disputing” refers to outward disagreements between people. Neither of these are healthy. Each reveals a lack of humility.
The truth is a community of believers should be united. While we won’t always see everything the same way we should not let that divide us. When we have disagreements with each other – which will happen – we need to not keep them to ourselves otherwise resentment results. But we are not to have unhealthy bickering either. We need to work out our differences through the power of the Holy Spirit, who will always show us the truth.
Another view of this verse is that Paul is telling the Philippians not to argue with God. Paul had just finished holding up Jesus as the example of perfect obedience to the Father [Philippians 2:5-8]. Jesus went to the cross without grumbling or complaining. Whatever God was asking the Philippians to do (or us to do today) was not nearly as difficult, humiliating, or painful.
In the Greek language (as well as others including German) words in a sentence can be arranged in any sequence in order to place emphasis on one or more of the words without losing the original meaning of the sentence. This is done by placing the emphasized words at the beginning of the sentence.
In Greek the words “all things” are at the beginning of this sentence indicating that Paul was emphasizing that there should be no exceptions to what he is telling them. In other words, there is nothing worth grumbling or arguing about.
God wants His children to have unity so that we can display His love to an unbelieving world. That is our priority. Disagreements, whether outwardly expressed or inwardly concealed, will undermine that. This does not mean that we ignore problems; that is not the solution to disagreements. The solution to disagreements is humility wherein we all are focused on the bigger picture instead of ourselves.
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