The Significance of Grumbling

I was listening to someone discuss the book of Jude, and something interesting passed by my ears. Speaking regarding apostates, Jude says:

Behold the Lord comes with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.

Now, if we stop here we could think to ourselves, “wow, these ungodly people doing their ungodly deeds in their ungodly way must be the most horrible of the horrible – so ungodly!” But if we simply continue reading, Jude says:

These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.

How many of us are grumbler or complainers? How many of us because of our own lust and desire to gain advantage use great swelling words, flattering people? How many of us engage in gossip about coworkers? How many of us complain about the president, our boss, our spouses, our pastors, or that guy speeding ahead of us who just cut us off? Even the best of us complain and grumble, myself included. We need to realize the seriousness nature of this sin. It is the sin of the ungodly, which is committed in an ungodly way. I believe that if we complain about anything or anyone, we are often complaining against the Lord, for it is God who orders our steps (see Psalm 37:23) and it is God who sets up the world’s powers (see 1 Timothy 2:1-2) and it is God who says, even as a slave, to work upright before the master as unto the Lord (see Colossians 3:23 and Ephesians 6:5-7). A tough stance.

So this got me thinking… what else does the Bible say about grumbling and complaining?

Philippians 2:14-15 (NKJV) says “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” Not complaining will help us to become blameless and harmless children of God who stand as lights in the midst of a crooked people. It is a part of our witness!

When the Israelites complained against Moses the Bible is clear in saying that they were really complaining against the LORD (See Exodus 16:7-8 and Numbers 14:27). Even when we think we are only complaining in our homes and with our family, and not publically, God still hears (See Psalm 106, especially vs. 25 – “but complained in their tents,” see also Deuteronomy 1:27). When we are murmuring among ourselves, which shows our lack of belief in God’s goodness, we must remember that Jesus said “Do not murmur among yourselves.” (See John 6:42-43). Complaining displeases the Lord (See Numbers 11:1-2).

Not necessarily  for, but in everything, we should give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (See 1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Complaining brings anxiety to the heart, which leads to depression (see Proverbs 12:25 NKJV). Complaining is caused by foolishness (See Proverbs 19:3).

We are to be patient. If we complain against one another, we risk condemnation! (see James 5:9 NKJV). Complaining against God brings destruction (see 1 Corinthians 10:9-10). If we need to complain, we need to complain to the Lord (not about the Lord) in a prayerful attitude. David gives good examples of pouring out his heart to the Lord and encouraging himself to be happy in God (See Psalm 42, 102 and  142, for example). See also Psalm 62:8 and Romans 8:26.

Proverbs 18:21 NKJV says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” Our words of complaint, even if just mumbled to ourselves, have power – the power of death. One of the enemy’s great deceptions has been convincing people that their words and gripings don’t matter. They do. Complaining is the ungodly sin of an ungodly people, and we ought to guard our hearts and minds against this. But this is not something we can accomplish on our own. We will need the Lord’s help. We should pray as David prayed, “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3)

We should ask God to help us follow the words of Paul in Ephesians 4:29-31:

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

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