As part of my job I get to study the Bible with students, a great privilege. Today I met with a student to continue to work through Paul's letter to the Philippians. We looked at chapter 2 and verses 12-18. This is not going to be an exposition of that passage, more observation and thought. In verse 14 Paul says:
"Do all things without grumbling or questioning," (ESV)
What a challenge, and on the surface a pretty outrageous one. I don't know about you but what comes to my mind are questions like this "What if someone annoys me, or gives me an unattainable deadline, or treats me harshly, or asks me to do something I don't want to do? Are you telling me I'm suppose to stay quiet and smile politely and get on with it?" Quite simply the answer is yes. But it's not an empty, of the cuff command. We have clear reasons to help us understand. The passage goes on:
"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..." (Philippians ch2v15 (ESV))
If we do all things without complaining but instead are servant-hearted and joyful in all we do it is a huge witness to the world around us. In this command we are being spurred on to holiness, encouraged to shine like stars, exhorted to be who we are, children of God.
This section follows an awesome description of the Lord Jesus Christ and His humility and servant-heartedness in coming to save sinners, leaving glory to become obedient to death, even death on a cross. Paul say to each of his readers "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" and this is because God is working in them for His glory. Just as Christ was obedient and came to serve, and did it all without grumbling, so we too are called to obey and serve in the same manner.
So next time you're thinking of grumbling or complaining or questioning, remember this and ask God to help you to serve humbly with joy.