• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Complaining till it Hurts

Complaining“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.” (Numbers 11:1 ESV)

Many people love to complain. In fact, it seems to be an integral part of some people’s personalities. As a principal in the public schools, every school I was part of had its unofficial complainers. Whenever you saw one of these persons coming to the office, you knew they were going to complain about something. Probably 90% of the complaints I ever heard were from these same few people. Much to my frustration, most of these complaints were about something we did not have the ability or power to change. There were, however, some complaints that were useful and productive. These usually came from people who did not have a habit of complaining.

I am the first to admit that sometimes I am so bothered by a problem, which is beyond my control, that I will begin to complain fruitlessly. This is not a habit of mine, but sometimes I let my emotions get ahead of my brain. Have you ever experienced this?

In general, God does not seem to be favorably disposed toward complaining. According to Paul, we are to “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God. . . .” (Philippians 2:14-15) Complaining, we are told in the Bible, even arouses God’s anger and wrath. (Numbers 11) Someone once wrote, “Whines are the products of sour grapes.” I have also heard it said that there are two classes of complainers: those who think they have not received what they deserve; and those who have received what they deserve.

Charles Spurgeon spoke truthfully, when he wrote, “Ten minutes’ praying is better than a year’s murmuring.” Perhaps it is also true that complaining lips expose an ungrateful heart. This is why it is so important for a Christian to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. When we complain, we are ultimately complaining against God’s providential care.

An important teaching to remember, if you are complaining about something or someone, is “… on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37 ESV) Solomon reminds us, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” (Proverbs 10:19 ESV)

Those who are of an irritable, malcontent spirit will always find something or other about which to complain. God gives and gives, yet if our circumstances vary one bit from our tastes, we fall into the sin of fretting, murmuring, and complaining. Is God not just in being affronted by this sin? He is justly provoked; for it is written, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 ESV) Even to indirectly complain against God’s providential care is the devil’s music.

Samuel at Gilgal

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