We live in a culture of complaining. It’s just normal life.
We complain about the weather. About the traffic. We grumble about our government and leaders. We complain to one another in the break room about our boss. We mutter when we have to stand in line. We grumble to ourselves about our spouses (not that I have ever done that).
Complaining and grumbling just seems natural. I mean everybody does it, right? And it’s no big deal, right? I mean, it doesn’t really hurt anything to grumble does it?
The Bible has a much different take on grumbling and complaining.
The first reason we should not grumble or complain is because God commands us not to:
Do all things without grumbling or disputing (or questioning), that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life…Philippians 2:14-16
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:9
We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 1 Corinthians 10:9-10
“How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me.” Numbers 14.27
Woah…I don’t want to be destroyed by the Destroyer. I sure am glad God is merciful, patient and forbearing. But these verses clearly show that grumbling is not pleasing to God.
The second reason we should not grumble or complain is because these are expressions of unbelief.
When we grumble we are saying we don’t believe that God is good or wise or loving. We are saying that God is not in control. We are saying that we don’t trust God to provide for us or do good to us.. We are saying that we know better than God what is good for us.
The third reason we should not grumble or complain is because when we do we are being terrible witnesses.
We are not shining our light. We are not being “blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” We are saying that Christianity makes no difference in our lives and that we are no different than anyone else in this dark world.
The fourth reason we should not grumble or complain is because it blinds us to all our blessings.
Psalm 103 tells us:
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:2-5
When we grumble we forget all God’s benefits. We forget his incredible forgiveness and healing and salvation. We forget his steadfast love and mercy. We fail to remember all the blessings and good things he has heaped upon us.
The fifth reason we should not grumble or complain is because when we do we are acting like the world does.
We do not act like people who have been rescued from our sins and given eternal life. We are not acting like people have been blessed to be adopted as sons and daughters of God. We are not acting like people who have been filled with God’s Spirit.
The sixth reason we should not grumble or complain is because it won’t change a single thing.
Bellyaching won’t change the weather or make your boss treat you better. It won’t get your teen to respect you. Grousing and grumbling won’t open a secret detour from the traffic on the way home from work. You can mutter under your breath or curse out loud but it won’t change your situation.
The seventh reason we should not grumble or complain is that it actually makes things worse.
Murmuring makes us more miserable. More unhappy. Which leads us to the next reason:
The eighth reason we should not grumble or complain is because it is a sin.
We are not being “blameless and innocent” (Philippians 2). Since God commands us to do all things without complaining, when we do, we disobey God. We do not obey his commands to rejoice. And when we sin, it has consequences. It makes us more miserable and unhappy.
The ninth reason we should not grumble or complain is because it blinds us to our blessings and makes us forget all the ways God has been good to us.
One day when stuck in traffic, and tempted to grumble I thought, “All this traffic is a result of how much God has blessed our nation. We wouldn’t have this jam if God hadn’t blessed us with so many cars and trucks and fuel and wonderful highways. We have this traffic because we’re blessed so abundantly.”
So what should we do when things go wrong, or when we have to wait in traffic, or our boss makes us miserable?
I have written about these topics before, but here’s a brief take:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
We don’t have to rejoice that we are afflicted or suffering. But we can rejoice that God is causing all things to work together for our good. That God is in control. That God is good and loving. We can rejoice that this world and it’s pain is only temporary and that someday we will be in heaven.
Pray without ceasing
Rather than complain, we can ask God to change things. To heal us. To help us. To help us rejoice. To help us love that difficult person. To help us serve others cheerfully. The last 2 winters I have prayed that God would help me love winter. That he would help me love cold weather. He hasn’t done that yet, but I’m going to keep asking. At least if I’m praying I’m not complaining about the cold.
Give thanks in all circumstances
We don’t have to thank God for pain or suffering or the sadness we feel. But we can thank him that he is good. That he loves us. That he saved us. We can thank him that he is using this situation to make us more like Christ. And we can thank him that someday he will wipe away every tear from our eyes.
Rejoicing, praying and giving thanks will open the doors for joy in our lives. They will cause our light to shine, and we will give glory to Jesus.