Discontentment in our society.Modern Western society is by far the most prosperous culture in the history ofmankind. Except for the very poor, people have all they need and much of whatthey want; yet many are seldom satisfied. Consequently, ours is also arguably themost discontented society ever.As we have become more affluent, people appear more discontented andcomplain more with each passing generation. Adding to the discontent are thefantasy worlds of movies, television, and advertising. The media, to createdissatisfaction, continually assault our senses with alluring and often unrealistic imagesthat have been described as "plastic perfection."Fueling that enchantment is the staunch conviction that personal happiness, thoughelusive and unattained, is the supreme objective of life.The typical modern young person lives in a state of sullen discontent, continuallydissatisfied with things as they are.Part of the problem is small families, in which fewer children are able to demandmore of their parents attention and they do not have to share anything with theirbrothers and sisters.Combined with affluence and materialism, that situation tends to produce selfish, self-indulgent children who are never content with what they have. Instead of bending tothe needs of the family, as is necessary in larger families, the family bends to them.Absent parents, gone to work, shop, and play, try quick fixes for their childrensdemands, giving them what they want to stop the conflict. Children in that situationhave little desire to grow up, realizing that adult society will not cater to their everywhim.They want to postpone the responsibilities of a job, marriage and family, and othersuch commitments as long as possible, because those things demand a considerabledegree of conformity to others.When these children become adults and dont get what they want when they wantit, discontentment increases, as do frustration, anger, anxiety, and complaining.Discontentment also breeds impatience, another defining characteristic of our times.Among the seemingly endless causes of impatience, and often hostility, are longlines, interruptions, rude people, high prices, traffic jams, inconsiderate drivers, andcrying babies. Inconsiderate drivers often produce road rage, which, with increasingfrequency, results in gunfire and even murder.
Crying babies have led to child abuse, which occasionally results in the murder of ahelpless baby.Mounting discontent through the years produces the trauma of a so-called "mid-lifecrisis." That phenomenon is the reality that there is less of life ahead than behind, andthe dreams of bliss are dying.The Biblical commands to believers not to complain (James 5:9; 1 Peter 4:9) areevidence that the church is not immune from discontent.The church today has more than its share of malcontents and complainers.People often leave a church because their children dont like it, or because they aredissatisfied with some minor aspect of leadership, organization, or policy.Churches that promote self-esteem and self-fulfillment fuel the fires of discontent andcomplaining. Churches devoted to entertainment and meeting felt needs alsocreate expectations for superficial satisfaction that they continually have to try tomeet.Adam was the first complainer. Immediately after he disobeyed God, he blamed Evefor his sin, complaining to the Lord that "the woman whom You gave to be with me,she gave me from the tree, and I ate" (Gen 3:12). Instead of blaming himself, heblamed God. Some years later, his firstborn, Cain, complained bitterly to God that hispunishment for murdering his brother Abel was too severe (4:13-14).Moses complained to the Lord because He did not deliver Israel from Pharaoh quicklyenough (Ex 5:22-23). After God miraculously delivered them by drowning the pursuingEgyptians in the Red Sea, Moses and the people sang a glorious song of praise to theLord (Ex 15:1-18). But after going only three days into the wilderness, they complainedagain because the water at Marah was not fit to drink.The Lord graciously responded by making that water sweet and then leading them toan oasis at Elim, "where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms,and they camped there beside the waters" (Exodus 15:23-27).Shortly after that, however, the people were grumbling again, this time about asupposed lack of food (Ex 16:2-8).In reality, every complaint a believer makes is against the Lord and is one of theugliest of sins. And complaining against other believers is especially serious, an affrontto God, because those believers are His children.James 5:9“Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not bejudged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door”.
1 Peter 4:9-10 says:"Be hospitable to one another without complaint. Rather, as each one has received aspecial gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold graceof God".Believers’ failure to willingly, even joyfully, submit to Gods providential will is a deep-seated and serious sin.Discontentment and complaining are attitudes that can become so habitual thatthey are hardly noticed. But those twin sins demonstrate a lack of trust in Hisprovidential will, boundless grace, and infinite wisdom and love. Consequently, thosesins are especially odious in His sight and merit His discipline.As Paul explained to the Corinthians, the numerous Old Testament accounts of Godssevere dealing with Israels complaints in the wilderness were given "as an example,and they were written for our instruction" (Romans 15:4 and 1 Cor 10:11).11 “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written forour instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” 1Cor 10:11Jeremiah asked, "Why should any living mortal, or any man, offer complaint in view ofhis sins?" (Lam 3:39). If that is true of everyone, how much more does it apply tobelievers, whose sins have been graciously forgiven by the Lord?Philippians 2:14Do all things without grumbling or disputing; (2:14)Grumbling is from gongusmos, a word that sounds like the guttural, muttering soundspeople often make when they are disgruntled. It is a negative response to somethingunpleasant, inconvenient, or disappointing, arising from the self-centered notion thatit is undeserved.The related verb is used of the resentful laborers who "grumbled at the landowner" forbeing paid the same as those who had only worked one hour (Matt 20:11). It alsodescribes the Pharisees and scribes who "began grumbling at Jesus‘ disciples, saying,Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?" (Luke 5:30).Paul uses the term to describe the Israelites in the wilderness, who grumbled "andwere destroyed by the destroyer" (1 Cor 10:10).Disputing is from dialogismos, which has the basic meaning of inner reasoning and isthe term from which the English word dialogue derives. But it soon developed themore specific ideas of questioning, doubting, or disputing the truth of a matter.
In Rom 14:1, the word is used of passing judgment on another believers opinions andin 1 Tim 2:8 it is rendered "dissension."Whereas grumbling is essentially emotional, disputing is essentially intellectual.A person who continues to murmur and grumble against God will eventually argueand dispute with Him.Behind this sin is the reality that although we are citizens of heaven (Phil 3:20),we live in a fallen world and in unredeemed bodies (Rom 7:18; 8:23).The Lord often leads us through times of trial and testing (James 1:2-3) and warns thatwe can expect to be persecuted because of our faithfulness (Matt 5:10-12; John15:20). It is therefore inevitable that circumstances will not always be favorable orpleasant.Happiness is dependent upon circumstances, joy is not.Every circumstance of life is to be accepted willingly and joyfully, without murmuring,complaint, or disappointment, much less resentment.There is no exception. There should never be either emotional grumbling orintellectual disputing.It is always sinful for us to complain about anything the Lord calls us to do or aboutany circumstance which He sovereignly allows.Whether the task is difficult or easy, whether the situation involves a blessing or a trial,negative attitudes are forbidden.As he testifies later in this letter, Pauls own spiritual growth had led him to enjoy thisattitude: "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know howto get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any andevery circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, bothof having abundance and suffering need" (Phil 4:11-12). His example shows that suchrighteous behavior is possible.THE REASONS TO STOP COMPLAININGPhilippians 2:15-16“so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of Godabove reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whomyou appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day ofChrist I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.” (2:15-16)
Paul gives three reasons why believers should stop complaining: for their own sakes,for the sake of the unsaved, and for the sake of pastors.FOR BELIEVERS OWN SAKES“so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of Godabove reproach” (2:15 a)Believers are to stop complaining so that they may become the kind of children ofGod He wants them to be; namely, blameless and innocent.Christians are God’s childrenby faith (John 1:12; Gal 3:26),by adoption (Rom 8:15,23; Gal 4:5), andby spiritual birth (John 1:13; 3:3-6; 1 Peter 1:23).Because we are His children, we should "be imitators of God" (Eph 5:1);every Christian is in the process of becoming more like Christ (2 Cor 3:18).That process includes becoming more blameless and innocent. To forsake grumblingand complaining is an essential part of advancing that process.Blameless is from amemptos, which has the root meaning of being without defect orblemish. The believer is to seek to be without moral or spiritual blemish.Zacharias and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist, "were both righteous in thesight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of theLord" (Luke 1:6).Innocent is from akeraios, which has the basic meaning of being unmixed orunadulterated. The term was used to describe pure wine that was unmixed withwater and pure metal that was not alloyed.Metaphorically, akeraios was sometimes used of what was harmless or innocent.Jesus commanded His disciples to "be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves"(Matt 10:16).Similarly, Paul admonished the Romans "to be wise in what is good and innocent inwhat is evil" (Rom 16:19). The believers life is to be absolutely pure, unmixed with sinand evil.Concerned for the spiritual welfare of the immature Corinthians, Paul wrote: "I amjealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that toChrist I might present you as a pure virgin" (2 Cor 11:2).
As children of God, Christians also are to be above reproach.Amomos (above reproach) is closely related in meaning to amemptos (blameless);both words describe what is without blemish or imperfection.Amomos is used numerous times in the Septuagint in regard to sacrificial animals.The character of the children of God should be above any legitimate blame orcriticism. Paul uses the word twice in Ephesians, admonishing believers to "be holyand blameless before Christ . . . that He might present to Himself the church in all herglory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy andblameless" (Eph 1:4; 5:27; Col 1:22).The writer of Hebrews uses amomos of the Lord Jesus Christ, saying, "How much morewill the blood of Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemishto God…” (Heb 9:14), as also does Peter, who speaks of Him as "a Lamb unblemishedand spotless" (1 Peter 1:19).Like every other spiritual virtue, being above reproach is impossible in a believers ownpower.It is only the unblemished and spotless Christ Himself Who "is able to keep believersfrom stumbling, and to make them stand in the presence of His glory blameless withgreat joy" (Jude 24).After briefly describing the "day of the Lord which will come like a thief, in which theheavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intenseheat, and the earth and its works will be burned up," Peter asks, "Since all these thingsare to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conductand godliness," and then makes the same point in the form of an admonition:"Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him inpeace, spotless and blameless" (2 Peter 3:10-11,14).FOR THE SAKE OF THE UNSAVEDPhilippians 2:15-16“in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear aslights in the world, holding fast the word of life,” (2:15 b-16 a)The second reason for not complaining is the negative impact it has on the unsaved,those who belong to a crooked and perverse generation — a description of thewhole unbelieving world.
The whole phrase “crooked and perverse generation” is borrowed from Deut 32:5,where Moses describes unfaithful and rebellious Israel as a people who had become"a perverse and crooked generation." Paul applies that description of Israel tounsaved, corrupt humanity.“Crooked” is from skolios, referring to what is bent, curved, or twisted. The medicalcondition scoliosis involves an abnormal curvature and misalignment of the spine. Theterm was used metaphorically of anything that deviates from a standard or norm,and in Scripture, it is often used of things that are morally or spiritually corrupt.Solomon speaks of "those who leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways ofdarkness; who delight in doing evil and rejoice in the perversity of evil; whose pathsare crooked (skolios), and who are devious in their ways" (Prov 2:13-15; 21:8; 28:18).“Perverse” translates a form of the verb diastrepho, which has the same basic idea asskolios but in a more active and dynamic form. Jesus spoke of an "unbelieving andperverted [diestrammene] generation" (Matt 17:17).The multitude that stood before Pilate and demanded Jesus crucifixion accused Himof "misleading [or perverting, diastrephonta] our nation and forbidding to pay taxesto Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King" (Luke 23:2).On the island of Paphos, Paul excoriated the magician and false prophet Bar-Jesus,saying, "You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of allrighteousness, will you not cease to make crooked [diastrephon] the straight ways ofthe Lord?" (Acts 13:10).Several years later he warned the elders from Ephesus that "from among your ownselves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them"(Acts 20:30).The crookedness and perversity of the modern world are so obvious and pervasivethat examples are hardly necessary. Modern culture has radically distorted anddeviated from Gods standards of truth and righteousness.As with the church of Pauls time, the church today does not exist near the crookedand perverse world but lives inescapably in its midst.Because of the expansive development of communications technology, Christianstoday are continually and vividly barraged with vile language, ideas, and practicesto a degree that believers in earlier days never encountered.It is from this crooked and perverse generation that people need to be saved.In his Pentecost sermon, Peter admonished his hearers “with many other words as hesolemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, Be saved from this perversegeneration!" (Acts 2:40).
In His High Priestly Prayer, Jesus spoke of the world as hating those who are not part ofit, namely, those who believe in Him (John 17:14,16). Yet He asked His Father not "totake them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one" (17:15). He prayed,"Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I alsohave sent them into the world . . . that they may be perfected in unity, so that theworld may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me"(John 17:17-18,23).Living faithfully and purely is an absolute prerequisite for fulfilling the Lords mandateto carry His divine message of salvation to a world lost in sin.In the first part of verse 15, Paul speaks of Christian character, what believers are tobe ("blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach"). Here he speaksabout what believers are to say, the content of what they preach and teach as lightsin the world.The way that believers live as children of God has a dramatic impact on how theyinfluence the godless world around them.