Grumbling or Grateful?

Bible Reading: Philippians 2:9-16

Philippians 2:14, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.”

A monk joined a monastery and took a vow of silence.  After the first 10 years, his superior called him in and asked, “Do you have anything to say?”  The monk replied, “Food bad.”  After another 10 years, the monk again had an opportunity to voice his thoughts, and he said to his superior, “Bed hard.”  Another 10 years passed by and again he was called before his superior.  When asked if he had anything to say, he responded, “I quit.”  To which the superior replied, “That doesn’t surprise me a bit. You’ve done nothing but complain ever since you got here.”

We are all prone to grumble and complain… such is the universal condition of men in sin.  Adults grumble.  Teens grumble.  Children grumble.  Poor people grumble.  Rich people grumble too.  We grumble about all kinds of things—our work, the weather, our food, the government, the cost of things, our illnesses, how we are treated, etc. etc.  For some, grumbling is as natural a thing as breathing.  Some have a special gift for grumbling.  But grumbling is not a spiritual gift.

What is grumbling?  Philippians 2:14 uses two terms to describe this kind of behavior. Grumbling is from the Greek term “gongusmos,” which means “to mutter, murmur, grumble, say anything in a low tone.”  The word is an onomatopoeic word, which means the sound of the word is akin to its meaning.  Disputing is from the Greek term “dialogismos” and is related to our English word “dialog.”  It speaks to an inward reasoning that differs from others and leads to arguments and such.  Our English word is defined as engaging in an argument.  The two terms are related.  Disputing has to do with one’s thinking when it disagrees with God or others, grumbling has to do with the expression of those complaints. Grumbling thoughts lead to grumbling words.

In a world that is given to grumbling and disputing, God’s children are called to a very different kind of behavior.  There is something very attractive and winsome to gratefulness.  What does the world see in you when you are confronted by difficult circumstances?  Do people see you grumbling and disputing, or do they see you trusting and thanking?  You either adorn the gospel or distract from it, depending on your response.

She is thankful.  Every time I visit, she’s thankful.  Thankful to God for her family, the place she has to live, and the care she is receiving.  This although she’s a hospice patient, and experiencing the pain and discomfort associated with her ailments.  After singing together the hymn, “Count Your Blessings,” she wondered why God was keeping her around.  I assured her that with a thankful heart like hers, she’s got an influence and is leaving a legacy for those around her, including her family.  She used to collect rocks.  You know, those gray ordinary orbs we encounter most everywhere.  She’s got one in her room that she found and then cleaned and polished.  It’s no ordinary rock. It’s beautiful and shines with lots of colors.  It’s an easy thing to grumble.  It takes little effort. Any one of us can find plenty of things to grumble about.  But gratefulness is a beautiful virtue that shines, and works to re-direct our attention to God, from whom all blessings flow. 


When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, ev’ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by. [Refrain]

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high. [Refrain]

So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end. [Refrain]

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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