Can the Godly Grumble?

Philippians 2:14–18


In this lab, John Piper reminds us that our grumbling is not insignificant to God. When we display contentment in Christ over complaining, we shine as lights in the world. Some questions to ask as you read and study Philippians 2:14–18:

  1. When bad things happen, is it a sin to grumble about them? Can we ever complain in faith?
  2. How much does Paul tell us we can grumble? What is at stake if we are grumblers?
  3. What areas in your life are you prone to complain about? Ask for God’s help to not complain about those things this week.

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Principle for Bible Reading

Search in Concentric Circles

When seeking for answers concerning how a biblical author uses a word or phrase in a verse, it is often helpful to start by seeking answers in the immediate context and then moving outward. Good Bible reading, like a stone dropped in a pond, starts at the word or phrase in question and ripples out to other places in the Bible to get help for understanding. Starting your search in the immediate verse and moving outward is often called searching in concentric circles.

After searching in the immediate verse, it is key to look for the author’s meaning in:

  • The paragraph which contains the verse
  • Then the chapter
  • Then its book as a whole
  • Then other books written by the same author
  • Then the same Testament (New or Old) as a whole
  • Then the whole Bible

Note: This order may be rearranged, depending on the verse. If you are dealing with the meaning of a verse cited from the Old Testament, for example, going to the Old Testament would move up in priority.

An example:

If you were wondering what it means to “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7), you might begin by looking for clues in:

  • The immediate verse: 1 John 1:7
  • Then the paragraph which contains the verse: 1 John 1:5–10.
  • Then the chapter: 1 John 1.
  • Then the book of the Bible: 1 John.
  • Then other books of the Bible written by the same author: John, 2 John, 3 John, Revelation.
  • Then the New Testament.
  • Then the rest of the Bible.