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How can we do all things without grumbling or disputing (Philippians 2:14)?

without grumbling or disputing

Jesus is the ultimate role model for Christians. In Philippians 1:27—2:18, the apostle Paul presents Christ’s example of humble servanthood. Believers who want to live a life worthy of the gospel and dwell together in unity must empty themselves of pride, serving one another unselfishly, just as Jesus demonstrated in His earthly life and ministry. One way to model our Lord’s selfless attitude is to “do all things without grumbling or disputing” (Philippians 2:14, ESV).

For most of us, obeying Philippians 2:14 is a tall order. How, then, can we do all things without grumbling or disputing? Paul gives us the answer in the preceding verse. We can’t concoct the attitudes and behaviors of Jesus Christ through our own human effort. We must submit ourselves to God and allow Him to work in us, giving us “the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13, NLT). Without God’s power operating on the inside, we cannot obey Him on the outside. That power comes from the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:16–17, 26; Acts 1:8).

In Ephesians 1:19–23, Paul prays for believers to “understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:19–20, NLT). The same Holy Spirit who empowered our Savior is available to work in us so we can do all things without grumbling and complaining.

One way God’s power is released in us is through His Word (1 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 4:12). As we listen to, read, and study Scripture, it trains us in righteousness, “corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, NLT). Spending time in prayer is another way we make room for the Spirit’s power to work in us (Ephesians 3:20; Romans 8:26–27). In addition, God’s Spirit works in us through suffering (1 Peter 4:12–19; Philippians 3:10; Romans 8:17; Acts 14:22; Hebrews 12:11). As we suffer and “share in the death of Jesus,” His life becomes more and more evident in our own lives (2 Corinthians 4:8–10, NLT).

The Greek noun translated “grumbling” in Philippians 2:14 describes “a complaint uttered in a low and indistinct tone.” On the other hand, “disputing” refers to “arguing in a raised voice, debating and quarreling out loud.” In the Old Testament, the repeated complaints of the Israelites—whether done in whispers or shouts—greatly displeased God because they revealed the underlying disobedience in their hearts (1 Corinthians 10:5–11). Jesus Christ’s faithful obedience to God stands in glaring contrast to Israel’s constant grumbling. Our Savior never murmured or argued against God. Jesus was devoted to His mission to fulfill His Father’s will no matter the cost (John 6:38; 8:29; 15:10; Hebrews 10:5–9; Luke 22:42). Christ was perfect in His obedience, even to the point of death on the cross (Philippians 2:8).

Our Lord’s humble obedience set the standard for us in our attitude toward God and our dealings with one another. The apostle James urges, “Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look—the Judge is standing at the door!” (James 5:9, NLT). Similarly, Peter says, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9). Paul writes to Timothy, “I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing” (1 Timothy 2:8). With Christ as our example, and God’s Spirit transforming our hearts, we too can do all things without grumbling or disputing.

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How can we do all things without grumbling or disputing (Philippians 2:14)?
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This page last updated: March 28, 2023