Complaining. Today we are to look at our grumbling and complaining hearts and repent. I think complaining is more the American pastime than baseball. I must confess that I can fall into the habit of complaining from time to time…it is like falling in a ditch – the slope is slippery and before you know it you are down in it. The Lord really brought me to the realization that complaining is a serious sin not long ago. I have always known it, I suppose; but I did a word study on it, pouring over all the passages where the Israelites were complaining and grumbling in the desert, and found just what Lorraine Hill reports:
God views our complaining attitudes quite seriously. Grumbling is not some small sin that he casually condones. He judges it gravely because it is such an affront to his generosity. In dealing with the Israelites, God sends serpents to bite the complainers, plagues to destroy the grumblers, and fire to consume the outskirts of the camp. Take a moment to allow the magnitude of this to set in. God does not just give his people a sweet warning to stop complaining and grumbling; he kills some of them. Do we honestly view our grumbling in such a serious light? (pg. 215).
The verses she gives us to study today were the same scriptures the Lord showed me because they get right to the heart of the matter. Here are my thoughts about complaining along with the verses from today’s reading and a few more:
- Complaining destroys our Christian witness. God is very explicit in His instructions. He doesn’t condone complaining if you are just “venting” to a friend or if someone “really gets on your nerves” or you have what you consider to be a “justifiable complaint”. Rather He says, “do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe” (Phi 2:14-15). Here God is pretty clear that not complaining will distinguish us from others as belonging to Him. When we complain, we are just like anyone else who is consumed by the way of the World.
- Complaining against other people, or a situation, is really complaining against God and His plan and puts us at odds with God. “Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘he has no hands’?” (Isaiah 45:9).
- Complaining interferes in our fellowship with God: Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ (Hebrews 3:7-10).
- Complaining is sin and sinning gives the devil an opportunity, or a foothold, which prevents us from glorifying God (Eph 4:20-30)
- Complaining steals our joy and peace – this is guaranteed by God Himself: For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it notall those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was He provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned,whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? (Heb 3:16-18). Jesus died on the cross to provide us access to the Promised Land in two forms: (1) when this life ends, we will enter Heaven and (2) in this life He will give us peace and rest, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). Because of Jesus we are able to rest. Complaining prevents us from entering His rest because of our disobedience, as God promised.
Complaining is a habit and complaining is a sin. It is the cultural norm and seems to be everywhere. We have less offensive names for it which water it down: “venting”, “getting it off your chest”, “whining”, “bellyaching”, “kvetching”…but sin is separation from God which is no small thing. So when we begin to complain we must see it as the thing that comes between us and God and will lead us to more sin – anger, grudges, gossip, envy, malice (by giving the devil a foothold). How many of us would willingly invite the devil into our hearts in the same breath that we un-invite Jesus from that place? At the first complaint, that is what we are doing. But just as quickly, we can turn it around (isn’t God wonderful?): Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).
JustaGirl…just like you