Grumbling or Glory – March 11, 2017

There’s a poem I read recently. It’s called the Grumbling Family and it lists all the things this family grumbles about. What I like about the poem is the ending. It goes like this “Let us learn to walk with a smile and a song No matter if things do sometimes go wrong; and then, be our station high or humble, we’ll never belong to the family of Grumble”.

It’s so easy to grumble and complain. I believe its most peoples natural bent. We know there is something wrong with the world, but we don’t know how to fix it. So we grumble and complain. We all are searching for nirvana and yet it is not attainable in this world today. Charles Spurgeon once said “murmuring is wasted breath and fretting is wasted time”. Fortunately, the word of God speaks into our grumbling with hope and promise.

The word for complain is used four times in the New Testament. There are other synonyms that carry a similar meaning, but when we complain it is for various reasons. Complaining hurts, damages, divides tears down and elevates self above others. It opposes Gods will and hinders progress in our own lives. It misleads people, and is self-centered and it works to push people away from God and the local church.

This week in my devotional time, I’ve been reading through the book of Numbers in the Old Testament. In Numbers chapter 11, the Israelites, who were Gods chosen people to represent him to the entire world, were grumblers. They were corporately a grumbling nation. The sad part is they didn’t have to be.  They had the God who is all powerful, the God who provides everything they needed and they had just witnessed him delivering them from a powerful people (the Egyptians) out of slavery and hardship. God promised to bring them to a better land with all the necessities to start a new life and yet they were fearful of the future.

As soon as Israelites set out on their new journey to the Promised Land, a land God promised would be rich in resources, they started to complain. It says in Numbers 11:1 “And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes, and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp”

 God does NOT take complaining lightly. Here in Numbers 11:1 it says that Gods anger was kindled.  This was NOT a sudden spontaneous reaction.  The Israelites had complained often.  Exodus 15,16, and 17 remind us that Israel was always looking back at their past life complaining at what they had rather than looking forward to what God had in store for them. They lacked faith in God and failed to show trust in others.  Two primary agents of complaining are fear and faithlessness.

Here we see that the Israelites were exhibiting an unspiritual life. The real issue in Israel was not their current conditions but their current faith in God. It was miniscule and it evidenced itself in their constant grumbling. The Christian faith is one in which we are called to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). The goal in the Christian faith is to please God (2 Corinthians 5:9), and too often we try to please anyone BUT God.

I wish I could tell you to just STOP IT. It’s not that easy. Old habits are hard to brake and yet God has given each person who has been born again the ability to fight against sin attitudes like complaining. We are not born spiritually alive. Our wills are curved in to please self rather than God, and therefore every person needs a new nature that comes from the divine.

Unfortunately because the first generation of Israelites did not stop complaining, they failed to receive Gods promises and every adult except for two men who did not complain, Joshua and Caleb,died in the wilderness of wandering. It says in Deuteronomy 1:35 that because of their complaining God refused to bless them and actually judged them.

Complaining destroys faith, and constant complaining will not grow and mature a person.

 The good news for anyone reading this article is that when someone confesses their sin to God and repents of their whole lives apart from faith in God, and trusts in Jesus perfect life of good works rather than their own, they become born again.  Jesus said in John 3:3 a person MUST be born again. The by-product of being born again is that God works in us both the power and ability to do his will (Philippians 2:13).

What’s the solution to complaining? First we need to examine our lives and see where we distrust God. Second, we need to grow in our understanding of God, his character, his attributes, and power so that he gets bigger and our fears decrease. Third, act on what you know and what God calls you to trust him in.

Contentment is learned, it is not found in a day.  It happens as we dwell on the right things, will you?

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me– practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you…….. 11

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. (Phi 4:8;9;11)

One of the promises I have found in God’s word that helps in times of  grumbling is found in 2 Peter which says  “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence”- (2Pe 1:3). Knowledge of God and acting on the promises of God shows faith and it will help curb complaining. May God help us all to focus and act on his promises for his glory.