Complaining and Arguing

Philippians 2:12-18

“Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize 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; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy.  Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.”


  • Paul mentioned in 1:27 that the Philippians be diligent in his absence.  Perhaps they had grown too dependent on his guidance so Paul calls them to follow God wholeheartedly and learn to feed themselves spiritually.
  • When Paul calls them to work out their salvation, he is not calling them to work for salvation.  Salvation is a free gift to those who receive it (Ephesians 2:-8-9).  More than just a past experience in our lives, salvation should be a present reality.  The moment we embraced the gospel we were saved from the penalty of sin, but we are daily working out  our salvation from the power of sin.  Paul calls the church to obedience for victory over sin but reminds them that they cannot do in their own strength.  God himself works in us, “giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.”
  • The church at Philippi was known for grumblings among its congregation. (2:2, 4:2)  Paul reminds them to do “everything” without complaining or arguing.  “Emphasis in the command falls on the word “everything” (literally, “all things”), which is actually the first word of the verse in the Greek text.” (Expositors Bible Commentary)   Ouch – EVERYTHING, most of us can do many things without complaining, but God says – everything.
  • After calling them away from complaining Paul calls them to lead pure and blameless lives but then gives them the key to living it out – he uses the present participle epechontes meaning “holding forth.”  We are to be holding forth the Word of Life in a present, active way in order to shine brightly in a dark world.   If we try in our strength or with  dependence on someone else, we will quickly get off track.  We need to continually “hold forth” God’s Word in our hearts and minds and allow the Holy Spirit to translate its truth into action in our lives.

Application questions:

  • Do you depend on others to feed you spiritually, or do you daily seek out time in God’s Word and prayer?
  • How are you working out your salvation over the power of sin in your life today?  It won’t happen accidently – we must intentionally and consistently practice obedience. “Heroic spiritual lives are built by stacking days of obedience one on top of the other.” Life Application Bible
  • What have you been complaining and arguing about lately?  Repent before God over this sin and ask Him to give you joy in serving Him and others with a heart of humility.
  • How can you more actively “hold forth” God’s Word today?  Perhaps God is calling you to memorize Philippians 2.  Maybe you can begin setting aside daily time for prayer and Bible study.  Take a moment to listen to God’s Spirit directing you in “holding forth” His Word.


Adoration: Praise God that He is going to return for our ultimate salvation from the very presence of sin.

Confession: Ask God to reveal areas of complaining and arguing in your life and then turn from them in His strength.

Thanksgiving:  Thank God for His life-giving Word and that He gives us “the desire and power to do what pleases Him.”

Supplication:  Ask God to pour our your life in service to Him so you can run your race with joy.





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