“Do all things without complaining and disputing.”
Verse 14 substantiates the interpretation that “salvation” in verse 13 is talking about the salvation of the local church at Philippi from splitting. “Complaining and disputing” are sins generally accepted in evangelical circles.
“Do all things”
The Greek places emphasis upon the word “all.” Everything a believer does, he should do without complaining and disputing. No exceptions.
Grumbling is a bad attitude. Grumbling was a favorite indoor sport of the nation Israel: “nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer” (1 Cor. 10:10). They loved to murmur against their leadership. They muttered, complained, criticized, griped, and harped against Moses.
Parents know what this means. You ask your children to do something, and they give a little lip. Yet believers sometimes “sass” God with their discontent about their lot in life. Some Christians are perpetually unhappy; nothing pleases some folk. Everything is wrong; nothing is right. All their fingers are thumbs. They are on the negative side of every positive question and the positive side of every negative question. They are born inside out. They love misery. This attitude is also contagious. They make everyone else miserable. If we are feeling “dog tired,” it may be that we growled and grumbled all day!
This term has legal connotations of disputing. Some folk love to debate; they love to argue. They just love to hear themselves talk.
Some people develop a vacuum when someone is not acting upon them so that their pride is stimulated. In that vacuum, they murmur and argue. They love to kick their bean bags. If they cannot kick their dog, they will argue with their mate. Self-pity is behind all complaining and argumentative attitudes. This is usually self-pity that is based on an exaggerated opinion of oneself. The rest of the world does not know what our ego knows about ourselves! The trouble is that our ego is hurt by a lack of recognition and appreciation for the “real us.” Yet the real us is a complainer which everyone avoids if at all possible!
Murmuring, complaining, and arguing are manifestations of discontent, and discontent is a rejection of God’s providential working in our lives.
Have we considered the possibility of praying over what we do not like? There are some things we learn to leave in the hands of God. We learn that when we face surgery or some other emergency. Why fuss and stew? Just leave it with God.