A sign leading into Yankton, South Dakota reads, “Yankton, S. D. The Home of 30,000 Friendly People and a Few Sore-heads.” We understand the sign, because we all know a few soreheads.
Grumbling and complaining are rarely labeled as being a problem. Grumbling is not one of the seven deadly sins. To my knowledge, there are no Grumbler’s Anonymous Groups. For most of us, grumbling comes rather naturally. We complain about traffic and lines at Wal-Mart. We moan about politicians and telemarketers. We gripe about church and our spiritual leaders. It almost seems to be a natural part of our genetic wiring, and, for this reason, many view it as being rather harmless.
However, our natural pastime of grumbling is far from harmless. Read the book of Numbers. One of the problems that plagued God’s people, in the wilderness, was their tendency to be consumed by complaints. Numbers 11:1 says clearly, “Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused.” In this passage, Scripture teaches us that grumbling flows from a sinful nature.
Grumbling is a deadly disease within the family of faith. It is contagious and spreads easily. It will steal our spiritual health and defile our unity. It cheapens the blessings of God. It distorts your vision. It entices you to live in a distorted past. It ignores God’s promises for the future. Complaining discourages God’s leaders. It consumes our time and energy. It steals our peace in Christ and the joy of our salvation. Grumbling always hurts the body of Christ, and our ability to fulfill God’s calling on our lives.
Grumbling always flows from a self-focus. It is about what I want, and puts the emphasis on “Me.” Faith puts the spotlight on God and His will.
Through Jesus Christ, we have been set free from the power of sin, including the sin of grumbling. Many of our churches would be far healthier, if you and I were known as those who encourage rather than those who complain.
How can we be set free from this destructive, critical spirit that divides and wounds? Here is some wisdom from the book of Numbers that guards us from succumbing to grumbling:
- Keep your focus on God.
- Move ahead in faith.
- Celebrate the lessons learned from the past, but do not desire to return to the past.
- Enjoy the blessings of today.
- Be thankful for His gracious gifts in your life.
- Rest in His promises for tomorrow.
- Remember that we will soon be home in the land that God has promised us.
I have learned that if I look up and keep in step with the One who goes before me, it is amazing that I do not have time to waste my days in grumbling and in longing for what has been left behind.