Mark Twain is commonly credited for saying, “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it’s the parts that I do understand.” As a biblical scholar and a Christ-follower I am rather bothered by both.
That being said, Paul’s admonition to the Philippians to “do everything without grumbling or complaining” (Philippians 2:14) is not especially difficult to comprehend. It is demonstrably difficult, however, to practice.
A (former) colleague of mine once quipped, “Whining is not a spiritual gift.” While we would readily agree with this witticism, amid the press and pressures, the challenges and concerns, the cut and thrust that is part and parcel of our shared and strenuous work in theological education, it is all too easy to succumb to carping over this thing and that.
I continue to discover that one way to counter effectively the complaining that seems to come so naturally for many of us is to cultivate intentionally “an attitude of gratitude.” Two questions that Paul posed to the Corinthians assist me in this continual quest: “What do you have that you did not receive? And, if you received it, then why do you boast as if though it were not a gift?” Worth pondering…and practicing.