The Effects of Murmuring and Disputing

Paul admonished the Philippian Christians in Philippians 2:14-16: “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” As Christians, sometimes it is easy to get caught up in exactly those things Paul says to avoid.

The word “murmurings” comes from the Greek word goggusmos and means “murmuring, muttering, inward displeasure.” The word “disputings” comes from the word dialogismos, it means “hesitation, doubting, arguing, or disputing.” Therefore, Paul is commanding those in Philippi to do all things without muttering and arguing. But why does it matter? Consider three reasons why we must do all things as the people of God without murmuring and arguing.

When murmuring and arguing, we cannot be blameless and harmless (Vs. 15). Nobody likes to be around those who are constantly disgruntled and bickering. It leaves a sour taste in the mouth of the hearer and a sour expression on the face of the participant. Unfortunately, some Christians always seem to feel the need to argue or complain about something. But the willingness to carry such an attitude leaves one open to blame or ridicule. The one who is constantly muttering against someone else is not focused on what is best for that person, but only on what they think of that person and the decision being made. Such is not an attitude of loving care and concern for a brother, but disdain and bitterness. It also shows a willingness to harm others. Muttering and arguing are not conducive to helpful assistance, but are detrimental to all involved. Such actions often lead to hurt feelings, divisions, and other sinful actions on the part of the participants.

When murmuring and arguing, we cannot be without rebuke (Vs. 15). Individuals who are causing such strife and consternation among God’s people will be rebuked for it. Interestingly enough, those described as doing the rebuking by Paul are those out in the world. At times members of the church refuse to stand up to undisciplined brethren and cause them to change their ways; when that happens the rebukes will come from those outside the congregation. Statements such as, “If _________ attends there, I’ll never attend with you” often follow those guilty of muttering and arguing. People out in the world recognize their undesirable attitudes and actions, and it only serves to hurt the cause of Christ.

When murmuring and arguing, we cannot hold forth the word of life (Vs. 16). It is impossible to “be at one another’s throats” and hold out to others the standard and principles of God’s Word. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Mat. 5:16). Those who resort to muttering and arguing are not presenting good works and have put out their light from the sight of men. It is impossible to shine a light with darkness.

It is understood that there will be times of disagreement in opinion between members of the church, for we are all human. But just because we disagree does not mean we have to become disagreeable and ungodly in our actions. In matters of doctrine we must stand for the truth, but doing so means letting God’s Word do the arguing, not our shouted rhetoric and angry voices. Let us do all things without murmuring and disputing.

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