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5 Motivations to Stop Grumbling

Inside: The sin of grumbling or complaining, whether silently or aloud, is a sin against the Lord. It implies that, at that moment, I am saying Jesus is not enough.

5 Motivations to Stop Grumbling from Philippians 2:14-16

It’s interesting how I can read about the children of Exodus complaining and forgetting all about God’s great deliverance and provision for them and shake my head in wonder. At the same time, I find myself complaining about the weather or how things didn’t go as I thought they should.

I’m no different; the same heart issue that caused the children of Israel to fall into unbelief and not trust in God is the same one in my heart. It’s a sin and needs to be addressed because it is ultimately not just a response to the circumstances around me but a response to God and his provision for me.

I am no different from the children of Israel who fell into unbelief and stopped trusting in God. The same heart issue that affected them is present in my heart: It’s a sin that must be acknowledged and addressed. My complaining shows a lack of trust in the Lord and is ultimately a response to God and His provision for me. It is a heart issue, and it’s one I need to address and deal with.

I know that complaining, murmuring, and grumbling are sins against the Lord. Even if I only complain in my mind and don’t express it verbally, it reveals that I don’t believe Jesus is enough in that circumstance or situation. Reflecting on some motivations on why I need to kill these sins with the help of the Spirit can be a help.

Susan Heck delivered a message titled “The Sin of Grumbling,” outlining five motivations to stop grumbling. The message was based on Philippians 2:14-16, a familiar text that she approached in a unique way. Three of the five motivations in this text were directed toward others (our testimony), one toward God, and one toward our leaders.

Philippians 2:14-16:

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 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, 16 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.

This passage is one sentence in the original language. We have in verse 14 a command: “do all things without grumbling or complaining.” We have a purpose in verses 15-16A: “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.” And then in verse 16b, a final result: “so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”

In the passage of Philippians 2:14-15 – Paul is alluding to Moses’ description of the Israelites and their time in the desert. They grumbled against Moses, and Exodus 16:7-8 tells us that their grumbling was against the Lord.

The grace of Christ at work in us should cause our response to be radically different. Our contentment in all circumstances shows us to be, as stated in verse 15, “children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation.” The hope is as we live lives of thankfulness and humility and desire to honor God above all things, we will shine as lights in the world.

I am not working through these five motivations word for word as Susan did in her message, but I wanted to work through them on my own and share some thoughts with you on why we should be motivated not to grumble and complain.

Listen to EP 149: 5 Motivations to Stop Grumbling: (listen in or read the post below):

Resources Mentioned:

Video: The Sin of Grumbling @Susan Heck

Sin of Grumbling with Susan Heck @Date Night with the Woods

Thankful Homemaker Patreon

Philippians Reformed Expository Commentary by Dennis E. Johnson

5 Motivations to Stop Grumbling:

Motivation One: Be Blameless and Innocent – Our Testimony Toward Others:

“that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God”

When we do all things without complaining and grumbling (a note to not miss that word “all” – it’s an inclusive statement – so all things in our home, at work or church or school or anywhere – in our marriages and parenting and friendships – all things), we show ourselves to be blameless – which is our outward conduct – and innocent – which is our inward conduct.

We live in a world that is prone to complaining. It’s so accepted that when things don’t go how we think they do or situations are hard – the world thinks it is a human right to complain. Imagine the difference of our testimony as believers to be those known for contentment in all circumstances and not for complaining. Imagine the difference in our testimony if, instead of grumbling about our circumstances, we gave thanks to the Lord, knowing and trusting that He is working all things for good to those who love Him.

Ponder the influence this would have on your family and those outside your home. His purposes are being worked out in our lives, even in hard times.

“Unsaved people complain and find fault, but Christians rejoice.”

Warren Wiersbe

As we choose not to complain, we demonstrate that among this crooked and twisted generation, we live our lives by the standard of God’s Word, and as we do, we will shine as bright lights giving glory to our Father who is in Heaven. We have the message of true hope to a lost world, and the hope is we would hold out that message to the unbelievers around us and be good witnesses for those who desperately need Christ.

Motivation Two: Children of God – Our Relationship Toward God:

“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,”

As we avoid grumbling or murmuring under our breath and disputing – we show the qualities of being a true child of God. I know this is a passage we’ve all read many times, but it can be so easy to look over this phrase here in verse 15 – “children of God.” We have such a privilege as God’s children – those adopted and chosen before the foundation of the world to live lives that bring glory to the name of our Father. If we would pray on this and ponder more about “Whose” we are, it would greatly impact our behavior, attitude, and responses to those around us. We are called to resemble our Father in Heaven.

Motivation Three: Shining as Lights – Our Testimony Toward Others

“Among whom you shine as lights in the world,”

We live in a world characterized by crookedness and darkness. It is a godless society we are in, and as we refrain from grumbling, we will stand out as a positive and uplifting presence in this lost world. Our attitude and behavior can serve as inspiration and hope to others.

Spurgeon stated on this passage:

“You cannot straighten them, but you can shine. They could destroy you if they could; but all you have to do is to shine. If Christian men would give more attention to their shining, and pay less attention to the crooked and perverse generation, much more would come of it. But now we are advised to “keep abreast of the times” and to “catch the spirit of the age.” If I could ever catch that Spirit, I would hurl it into the bottomless abyss, for it is a spirit that is antagonistic to Christ in all respects. We are just to keep clear of all that, and “shine as stars in the world.”

And Brian Bill shared four ways we can respond as believers when it comes to the world:

“We can isolate and just spend time in holy huddles. 

We can indulge and become just like those around us. 

We can incinerate lost people with our attitudes and actions. 

We can illuminate the darkness by shining and sharing the Word of God.”

The first three responses lead to the loss of our witness. We are to be bold, bright lights – the stars shine the brightest when everything is darkest.

“Those who make the most noise complaining are doing so to compensate for the lack of light in their life. I wonder if a secret video camera had zoomed in on you this past week, how much complaining would have been captured on film? Are you a victim or a victor? Do you whine a lot, or do you shine for Jesus? Are you humble or do you grumble? Perhaps you came in through the doors today looking to air some arguments and file some complaints. Let God meet you at the door as you leave, and let Him pin His Word on you: “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”

~Brian Bill

We need to ask ourselves – how is our light shining?”

Motivation Four: Holding Fast to the Word of Life – Our Testimony Toward Others:

“holding fast to the word of life,”

The translation of this term holding fast is better translated as, “Holding forth.” The main point isn’t that we are remaining faithful to God’s Word – the hope is we are – but the point is that we are sharing with others, holding God’s Word out as a torch. That torch is the truth of the Word; it is a light to a lost world; it is the truth that brings eternal life. The Word must dwell in us richly to hold it out to others.

Motivation Five: Our Leaders Will Rejoice in the Day of Christ – Our Testimony Toward Our Leaders:

“so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”

One commentator stated:

“In Philippians 2:16, Paul says that when his friends meet adversity with patient contentment and winsome witness, he tastes the fruit of the hours and years, the teaching and tears, that he has poured into their lives. It has all been worth it! On the day of Christ, when Jesus returns as the rising Sun and the night is over forever, Paul will present these believers as his gift of love to the Savior, evidence that “I did not run in vain or labor in vain.” Again the apostle echoes the Old Testament, specifically the prophecy of Isaiah, who promised that when God’s new creation comes, “my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity” (Isa. 65: 22–23). That ancient promise speaks to Paul as a pastor, but it is also a promise to the whole people of God, who live by faith in Jesus. Because God is at work through our service, as we pour ourselves into others’ lives, we anticipate that one day they will stand with us before the throne of God and of the Lamb!”

Dennis E. Johnson, Philippians Reformed Expository Commentary

Our leaders will stand before the Lord and will give an account, and Susan Heck encouraged us to let them do it with great joy, especially when it comes to our witness to others and the testimony of our lives as believers – that them pouring into us wasn’t in vain. Let us also pray that our pouring into others isn’t in vain, but they, too, would bear much fruit and shine like stars in the universe as they held out the word of life.

For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?

1 Thessalonians 2:19

Let’s live obedient Christian lives so that our leaders can boast on the day of Christ that they did not run or labor for nothing.

Our Response Matters:

In this short but powerful passage – Paul laid out for us three ways as believers, we are lights amid a crooked and perverse generation:

  1. We do not grumble and complain.
  2. We are not contaminated by the world and by those in the world as we come in contact with them.
  3. We hold to, and we hold forth, the Word of God.

One practical part of the teaching from Susan Heck I appreciated was one we all have heard and probably done at times in our lives, but it was to keep a gratitude journal. I haven’t kept a separate gratitude journal, but I’ve been writing down things I’m thankful for each day in my prayer journal for years. So I encourage you, if you have a bent towards being a murmuring grumbler, to focus your heart on all the things you have to give thanks to the Lord for. 

Susan shared a comment her mentor shared with her that will be helpful to us all. We all have challenging circumstances, losses, and hurts, and I know there has been much brokenness in all our lives, but her mentor reminded her not to focus on what you’ve lost but to focus on what you have.

We must change our thinking and align it with God’s word. Refrain from letting your wrong thinking take hold of your thought life, which then takes hold of your speech, and it just becomes a downward spiral from there.

May we rejoice in the midst of difficult circumstances, knowing that Jesus truly is enough.

One Comment

  1. Thank you so much for this inspiring (and convicting) lesson. There are just some things that I feel I could read/learn/reread every day. Not grumbling is one of them, because as you said, it comes in so many shapes and sizes that it pops up all over the place. I am in a difficult situation right now that may be ending soon, but somehow I struggle with thinking I am never (have never) handled it good enough. It just gets to me, I pray I move on and it sneaks back in. I feel that although I have grown I must be ever ever watchful and prayerful. I cannot encourage people enough to stay in God’s word. i know for me that if I miss my reading I miss a lot. It’s like going out with half the armor on. I don’t believe I am the only one who feels this way. Time is so short and precious, I pray all of us hang on tighter and stand stronger. Thanks Sister! I appreciate you in my Christian walk!

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