“Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticise you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life…” Philippians Chapter 2 Verses 14-16 NLT.
These are words that Paul, a champion of the faith, wrote to the Church in Philippi, encouraging them with advice on conducting themselves. The Philippian church had its fair share of problems at the time, like any church might at any time, but that doesn’t mean Paul’s specific instruction has no value for those of us running the race today. Indeed it is a statement RICH in meaning.
Oh oy this is hard… So hard… For whatever reason, human beings have developed a need to let the world know when we’re uncomfortable for no reason at all. For example, I work with children, and usually I start early enough in the morning that I can only see while driving by washing ice off my windscreen.
When I’m at my workplace almost consistently one can hear the young voices saying “It’s so coooooold” while they rub their arms under their jackets and breath out foggy air. Of course, these kids are more than welcome to go inside where the heater is humming away, but then they can’t play with certain toys.
What I mean by this is that hardship is often begun with a choice, and so often in life we will have chosen to do something or to serve somewhere, whether it be work-related or not, and yet we can’t seem to stop ourselves complaining about it.
Or maybe when something unexpected happens like we accidentally drop something, and it shatters, suddenly all we can do is complain. But complaining cannot bring the pieces back together, complaining will not put your life in order, and complaining will not make you healthy in body or mind.
An easy change
So, complaining changes absolutely nothing for the good, and perhaps it leaves everything worse off. Why would anyone entrust you with responsibilities if they know all you do is complain about them or argue for no reason?
No one wants to hear it, it doesn’t fix anything, and it wastes everyone’s time. If the goal of those who claim to believe in Jesus is to live more like Him then it’s not hard to find a good example of this – did Jesus ever complain or argue? Exactly.
Look I know, it’s pretty easy for me to just say “What Would Jesus Do”, but as Believers I don’t think we should ever aim for less. I still remember the moment I decided I would no longer consciously complain about things; my youth pastor had asked me to set up a projector and I made some sarcastic remark suggesting I didn’t want to, so he simply looked at me and said “Okay, don’t do it.” This stuck with me and rattled around in my head and I constantly wondered ‘why was that so affecting?’
It took some time for me to realise how me complaining was nothing but annoyance for everyone else and nothing but a waste of time for the leader I had already committed to serving. So, I decided simply to not do it anymore, and slowly but surely, I became a more effective worker and leader. I was given more responsibility, I was consulted in important decisions, and altogether I felt much better internally.
Shine like bright lights
In Philippians Paul specifically says “Shine like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people”, suggesting it’s expected of people to complain and to argue (among other things), to never understand why they should sacrifice comfort for anyone else’s benefit, so much so that anyone doing so stands out like a light in the darkness.
People notice, and as I touched on earlier, your life can change for the better because of it. But ultimately, what can it hurt? So, you exclaimed “I don’t want to do this!”, what has empirically changed now that you said that? Odds are either nothing, or your peers and leaders now trust you less.
So you know what, I’m going to continue to not complain or argue when I choose to do something, I think it’s an easy change to make in life and I think we all show better character for it. And above all else, I will continue to hold firmly to the word of life, because in it I find a better connection to the source of all.
Josiah Gray lives in Logan City, Australia. He is currently studying teaching at Christian Heritage College and is committed to telling the story of Jesus to the next generation.
Josiah’s previous articles can be found at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/josiah-gray.html