Complaining


No, I don’t have something I want to rant about. I want to discuss complaining. I’ve been thinking about the topic for some time.

A little background. I have been a complainer for … just about as long as I’ve known me. 😦 This is not an easy confession. I wish I could say I’ve developed the habit of trusting God in all things and never get wadded up inside over things that seem unfair, dangerous, unwise, wasteful, unkind, unhealthy, ungodly … But the truth is, my first thoughts are usually of the “lash back” variety. And if not directly, then indirectly, to the first ready listener I can find. Of course, some call the latter by the ugly name, gossip.

The capper is, some years ago, as I was working my way through the book of Philippians in the Bible, I came across verse 14 in chapter 2: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” Some translations say complaining. This verse follows a section about Jesus humbling Himself and coming to earth in the form of a man, humbling Himself to the point of death. And yes, following those lines is the declaration of God exalting His Son above all names. But then this:

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing.

Recently I looked back on the all time grumblers recorded in Scripture (people like me)—the Israelites. They finally escape Egypt, only to have Pharaoh send his soldiers after them to bring them back. The people see the Red Sea in front of them and the Egyptians behind them, and they are afraid. They call out to God. Not just, Save us. But they accused Moses of being irresponsible for bringing them out of slavery to die in the wilderness.

God saves them.

Then they run out of food and grumble against Moses. Except, don’t they really need food?

Next they couldn’t find water and they quarreled with Moses saying “Give us water that we may drink.” Was that unreasonable?

Of course there is the ultimate incident, when the spies returned from checking out their aimed for destination and ten reported, There are giants in the land. The people then grumbled in earnest, going so far as to discuss appointing another leader to take them back to Egypt.

The grumbling didn’t end there either. But here’s the question. The Israelites weren’t making up the circumstances that frightened them. The Egyptians were indeed closing in behind them, they really did need food, and water, and there really were giants in the land.

So when does crying out to God about real concerns become grumbling and complaining?

Published in: on July 2, 2008 at 1:27 pm  Comments (2)  
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