Grades 3-6 Lesson 12 for Sunday School:
Imitators of Christ – No Whining Zone
Teacher’s Notes: At the start of this lesson series on being like Christ, we noted that there are several ways to learn what it means to be Christ-like. We began our study by looking at specific examples from the life of Christ. Then, we looked at others in The Bible, and learned from their examples. Our final method of learning what it means to be Christ-like comes from teachings found in The Bible. These will be types of “because I said so” lessons, where the writer of our passage tells us how we should live, because God says so. If we remember that God is our Heavenly Father, and loves us a great deal, we can appreciate these instructions as “Fatherly advice.” This week’s lesson will be looking at a common reaction to instructions: whining.
Last week, we began looking at Bible passages that contain God’s instructions for how we should live if we’re going to be Christ-like. In Philippians 2, we found that Jesus Christ put others ahead of Himself. And Paul shared with the church at Philippi and with us, that “this mind,” the mind, of Christ, is also supposed to be in us. So before beginning our lesson for this week, did anyone make a point, this week, to put someone else first? (Spend a few minutes allowing the students to share their experiences from the past week.) Remember that putting others first not only makes others happy, it also makes God happy. And that should make us happy, too.
This week’s lesson comes from the same chapter, Philippians 2. We’re going to learn that when things don’t go the way we want them to, or when we’re asked to do something we don’t want to do, God doesn’t want to hear us whining. In fact, He wants to hear rejoicing! How can He expect us to do that?! Let’s find out.
The first thing we’re going to do is think of things we really enjoy doing. (Allow the students to share things they enjoy.) Imagine your parents came to you and said, “We’re going to go on a family vacation to the beach.” Now, assuming you like going to the beach, how would you react?
Then, imagine you entered a contest, and just found out that you are the top winner! How do you feel?
Now imagine that your parents came to you and said that the yard around the church needs to be cleaned up, and they’ve decided that you’re going to take care of it, as a family. How would you react to this news? Would you groan? Would you ask, “Why us?” Would you whine? Or would you respond the same way you did when you heard about the vacation and the prize you won? Do you think it’s possible to respond with joy, even when your get the toughest news?
Let’s take a look at this week’s memory verse, to see how God wants us to react:
Memory verse: (Have the children repeat this verse with you several times, until they are able to say it themselves. And encourage them to repeat it to others several times during the week, so that it’ll have a place in their hearts.)
“Do all things without murmurings and disputings:” Philippians 2:14
Opening prayer: Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today. And thank You for Your Holy Bible, where we can find Your instructions for becoming more like Your Son, Jesus. Help us now, Lord, to have ears ready to listen, and hearts ready to learn; because this week You’ve got a tough one for us…no whining. We want to be obedient to Your Word. So we ask, Lord, that you would help us learn to respond to everything the way You’d have us to – with joy. Put Your joy in our hearts, Lord! Amen.
This Week’s Lesson: (Christianity is a “No Whining” zone!)
“Do all things without murmurings and disputings:” How many things does our verse say we are to do without whining and arguing? Does God really expect us to be able to do everything without whining or complaining? Let’s take a look at this week’s Bible passage, and see just what being Christ-like means when it comes to reacting to tough instructions.
(Suggested Bible Reading): (you may read the entire passage now, or just refer back to it when suggested in the lesson)
14Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
15That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
16Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
17Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.
18For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.
If you were with us last week, you might remember that Paul is talking, here, to the church in Philippi. But he’s also talking to us, as well; with instructions right from our Heavenly Father. You may also remember that just a few verses earlier in this chapter said, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” (Philippians 2:5). Paul is reminding us that what he’s asking of us is no more than what Jesus, Himself, would do.
Today’s verses in Philippians are going to give us our next instruction for being Christ-like: no whining or complaining. Then, Paul’s going to explain why it’s wrong to do that. And in the last few verses, Paul is going to remind us how he, himself, has been able to endure hardship without whining about it.
Verse 14 (our memory verse) starts right off with our instructions from Paul. “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” What do you think of when you hear that word, “whining?” Do you picture a young child arguing with his mother, in a high-pitched voice that says, “I don’t want to do what you’re saying?” Whining is not just something little children do. Older children sometimes whine and complain, and argue with those in authority when they’re asked to do something they’d rather not. And adults sometimes complain, even to God, when they are told to do something difficult.
Do you remember our example from earlier, when I asked how you’d react if your parents told you they needed you to help clean up the church yard? For many of us, our first reaction would probably be to whine, and perhaps argue that someone else could do it. But have you ever considered that whining is sinful? It may not seem like a big deal to you, but here’s what whining says to God: whining says, “I know you gave me my parents, and I know that I’m supposed to obey them. But I don’t like what they’re asking me to do. And I don’t want to do what they say right now.” Can you see how arguing with and whining to your parents is actually whining to God, Himself? He’s the one who has put your parents in authority over you. And He’s the one who has told you to obey your parents. So whining to them or arguing with them is complaining to God.
Paul has another reason for why whining is not Christ-like. Verses 15 and 16 say this: “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” As Christians, we are called to be lights in this world. That means we should be shining examples of what Christ is like…blameless and harmless. In other words, no one should be able to point us out as disobedient to God. We are living in a world that often is not concerned with knowing or pleasing God. And when we are obedient, without complaining, we show the world what Christ is truly like
If we hide the light of Christ that’s in us, especially by acting like the world by whining and complaining, then we are not living as shining examples. And do you see how Paul felt about keeping his light shining? He was able to rejoice, because he knew he was really accomplishing something for Christ. He knew that all he was willing to do, in order to be obedient to the calling of God was not empty and meaningless. His testimony as a joyful Christian was a shining light, drawing others to Christ. And someday, when we stand before God, in Heaven, we will know, too, that our suffering was also not meaningless, when we learn that our happy obedience has brought glory to God, and has been a shining example to those around us.
Of all people who may have a “good” reason to whine and complain, Paul was probably near the top of the list. He had done exactly what the Lord had asked of him. He had gone exactly where the Lord asked him to go, and said exactly what the Lord asked him to say. And yet, where did that get Paul? At the very moment he’s writing this letter to the Philippians, Paul is not sitting in a comfortable home, eating a nutritious meal, or wearing warm, comfortable clothing. No, he’s in a Roman prison, suffering for the sake of the Gospel. If anyone deserved to whine a little, and ask why he deserved such treatment, it would be Paul. If anyone deserved to argue with God for letting him suffer so much, when he had done just what God had asked him to, it would be Paul. But instead of whining and complaining about the suffering God had allowed him to go through, listen to what Paul has to say in verse 17: “Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.” Not only does Paul endure the suffering; the times in prison, the pain of beatings, shipwrecks, and rejection. Paul considers all he has gone through as a sacrifice he can offer back to God, a service for his King. And with that perspective, Paul is actually able to rejoice.
If you were stuck in a smelly prison, chained to Roman soldiers, perhaps eating only bread crumbs and drinking dirty water, how do you think you would react? Would you be tempted to whine and complain to God, asking Him where the reward is for your faithful service? Paul not only tells us that we are not to whine and complain; he lived out the perfect example for us. He rejoiced right there, while in prison.
Then, in our last verse, Paul makes sure that we understand what he’s asking of us. He’s told us not to whine and argue. He’s reminded us that we’re to be lights to the world, showing them who Christ is by living godly lives. He’s been our example, reminding us that even though he has endured more hardship than most of us will ever face, he is still able to react with Christ-like joy. And now, Paul is asking us, as believers in Jesus Christ, and fellow servants of God, to have the same response he has – not whining, or complaining, or arguing. Instead Paul says, “For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.” Paul wants us to carefully consider all that our Heavenly Father asks of us as opportunities to offer something back to God. What a privilege it is to be able to give back something to the One who has given us so much, and has loved us so much.
Our Heavenly Father gave the ultimate sacrifice for us, sending His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross as payment for our sins. And a great way for us to thank Him for His sacrifice would be to bring Him one of our own…our joyful willingness to obey, without whining. Let’s rejoice, with Paul, as he’s asked us to, no matter what we’re asked to do. And let’s remember that whining is not only annoying to listen to… it’s also sinful. And that means it breaks God’s heart. Let’s be sure this week to make God’s heart happy, by responding without whining. The choice is yours this week: whine or shine!
Closing Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for teaching us about the very mind of Christ, showing us what we should do if we want to be like Him. Give us the ability this week to keep from whining when asked to do something we’d rather not. Help us, instead, Lord, to respond with a joyful attitude, just like Paul did. Then we can be shining examples for you in our families, our churches, our neighborhoods…wherever you lead us this week. Amen.
Class Discussion/ Activity:
Let’s spend some time thinking of examples of how we can find joy in even tough situations, so when they arise you can be ready to shine, knowing that your Heavenly Father has allowed for you to be there. What are some difficult things you have been asked to do in the past few weeks? Can you look back and see reasons to be joyful even though it was hard? What do you think you might be asked to do this week? Do you think you are ready to go into this week as a shining light, and not a whining sight?
Will You Shine or Whine?
When we’re asked to do a task
That might seem dull or hard,
We can whine or we can shine.
We must be on our guard.
The enemy will watch to see
If Jesus’ light will shine.
But it will not, if we get caught
Responding with a whine.
Lisa DeVinney, July 2011