Archive for May, 2013

May 1, 2013

Grumbling (May)

It is shocking how often Scripture talks about grumbling.  The Israelites grumble against Moses their leader and against God as they wandered the desert.  They quickly learn that God feels very strongly against grumbling.  1 Corinthians recounts the story, saying,

We should not test Christ, as some of them did– and were killed by snakes.  And do not grumble, as some of them did– and were killed by the destroying angel.  These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.  So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall (1 Corinthians 10:9-12)!

Those are some harsh words about the Israelites and some harrowing words for us today.  Like the Israelites, we can be quick to grumble.  We grumble over our finances.  We grumble over our jobs.  We grumble over our relationships.  We can even grumble over our church!  Once we start, it quickly becomes a habit.

Certainly God wants to hear our heartaches.  Much of the Psalms are cries of heartache to God.  “How long, LORD?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me (Psalm 13)?”  Even Christ on the cross cried out to God, “Why have you forsaken me (Psalm 22)?”  But when we begin to complain to someone about something or someone else, it becomes grumbling, and God has little patience for this.

Why?  Because God values unity so much, and grumbling fractures unity, turning friends into enemies.  When we grumble in the church, God hears and responds.  “Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door (James 5:9)!”  How do you get God upset?  Grumble about other people.  And this is why the New Testament constantly warns us against grumbling.  “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, (Philippians 2:14),” and “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9).” Grumbling is a big deal to God.

How do we counter grumbling in our lives?  We replace it with thanksgiving!  The Israelites grumbled, forgetting that God had saved them from slavery in Egypt.  Often our grumbling reveals that we have forgotten that we have been saved from slavery to sin and liberated by Christ’s life, death, and resurrection to live transformed lives by the Holy Spirit.  When we remind ourselves of this great reality, how can we grumble again?  When we give thanks, we remind ourselves of this great reality, and we remind those around us as well.  Just as grumbling is infectious, so is thanksgiving.  No wonder the New Testament is also filled with encouragements to give thanks!

Rejoice always,

pray continually,

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

What does God hate?  Grumbling.  What does God love?  Giving thanks in all circumstances.  May we be a people with infectious thanksgiving, drawing others to the God who deserves all our praise!

Pastor Rich