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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Balmer

Joy Without Complaining

This is a sermon preview for Sunday April 30, 2023. It is the 4th week of the Eastertide sermon series “Easter Joy: A Walk Through Philippians.”

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing…” - Philippians 2:14

Perhaps that sounds like a mantra repeated in vain by an exasperated parent to cantankerous (or even whiny) children.

Today, when we think of reasons not to complain we might think of “all the people who have it worse.” That is, compare our difficulties to others and say, “Well, what I’m going through - by comparison - it’s not so bad.”

And maybe there is a grain of reason in there. Perspective is important. Yes, I forgot to charge my phone, the milk has expired, and I find out the car is out of gas in the morning when I start the ignition – but, in the grand scheme of things that might befall a person, it’s a slightly irritating morning.

Many people do have it worse than me.
But, this is not why Paul tells the Church to do everything "without grumbling or arguing"!

Part of the reason Paul doesn’t think this is might be that Paul very clearly suffered – and more than most (seriously, he doesn’t mince words: check out 2 Corinthians 11:23-30).

But another part is that Paul focuses on the goodness of the Gospel. He doesn’t deny or relativize suffering. He doesn’t say, “It’s not really that bad, so get over it and be joyful.”

In fact Paul has words for the world like “warped and crooked,” and speaks about believers being those who “shine among them like stars in the sky” (v. 15). Stars shine in the sky brilliantly: when the sky is dark and the greater light, the sun, is nowhere to be seen. It is only in the midst of darkness that stars shine so that we can see.

It is in the midst of real hurt, we might have joy.

Paul can share joy and gladness with them because a new age has come in Jesus. In the middle of a world surrounded by death we are in Christ’s life.

The main point of the message, the word that I hope we'll hear through this passage of scripture this Sunday, is that:

“With God’s grace gratitude shines in obedience, perseverance, & gladness.”

It is God’s gracious action in us that moves us to live lives of grateful obedience, that allows us to persevere in faith, and awakens our hearts to live with gladness, whatever our situation may be.


Because we have joy in the Good News that is Jesus Christ.

Derwin Gray, the Pastor of Transformation Church, described this phenomenon through a different passage, Psalm 30.

As we prepare to hear how God might have something to say to us through this word from Paul to the Philippians this upcoming Sunday (5/7/2023), I invite you to read both Philippians 2:12-18, Psalm 30, and to watch and reflect on this short clip from the message below:

Derwin Gray (Transformation Church) - "The Source of True Joy"


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