Last week I had the privilege of sharing a Bible lesson on “Throwing off the Shackles of Complaining and Murmuring.” It is something I have been thinking about all summer since I first was asked to deliver the lesson. I quickly told them I had committed the sin of complaining so I was probably somewhat qualified to discuss it. My husband said I should be able to speak a long time about this grumbling and complaining.
What I knew, but rediscovered was that this sin has been around since the beginning of time. When Satan tempted Eve in the garden of Eden, Genesis 3:1 (NIV) says,
“ Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
What he was really saying is,
“Is God really Holy? Does he really know what is right? Does he really want what is best for me?”
Author and speaker David Platt, goes on to elaborate in his book Counter Culture,
“Amid such questions, man and woman subtly assert themselves not as the ones to be judged by God, but as the ones who sit in judgment of Him.”
These questions kind of have haunted me all summer as I stop myself every time I get in to a complaining or murmuring mode. When I went back and looked at the most famous murmurers of all time, the wandering Israelites, I noticed a few key lessons I could learn from them. So grab your Bible and look up the following verses and see if you agree with my lesson points.
- Exodus 13:17-18 We grumble and complain about the “desert” of life. Even though it is hot, tiring and desolate; it is certainly better than being in a war.
- Exodus 14:1-5 Sometimes we need to wander in the desert so God’s glory can be shown.
I recently finished Michele Cushatt’s book entitled Undone where she chronicles her battles with divorce, blending step families, cancer, fostering young children and multiple surgeries. I highly recommend the book, but one quote popped out at me that fits here.
“Our God is a refuge for the broken, not a shelf for the display of the shiny. No more pride for those who have it all together and shame for those who don’t.” God’s glory shines best through our cracked but redeemed lives.
3. Exodus 14:10-12 When we ask God for help, we should not question the means in which God delivers the help!
4. Exodus 14:13-14 We need to quit murmuring and be STILL!
5. Exodus 14:15-18 We have already been given what we need–salvation; gift of the Holy Spirit; a free 24 hour prayer line direct to God; the Word (even in pretty pink covers)….MOVE ON!
In Philippians 3:12-16, the apostle Paul encourage the church in Philippi to move on. They had two women who were quarreling over something that was causing a problem for the whole church. I bet they were arguing over something that happened a very long time ago. We need to move on people! Sing with me now, “Let it go, Let it go!”
6. Exodus 14:23-25 The Lord is fighting for us too!
We cannot forget this. Romans 8:35-39 guarantees us that nothing else can separate us from the love of God.
7. Exodus 16:3 Remember where the Lord has brought you from and where you want to go.
8. Exodus 16:4-5 Much of our murmuring and complaining is due to worry and not following directions.
God has given us everything we need for life. He has not and will not ask us to do something he has not given us the ability or means to do!
9. Exodus 16:6-11 Often our troubles are resolved and we forget to thank God.
10. Exodus 16:20 When we hang onto our grief and grudges…the maggots grow inside us!
11. Exodus 16:26 We need to take a sabbath type rest.
12. Exodus 6:34-35 We may need to be in the desert a long time.
We may just be slow to learn, or the reason for us being in the desert may not be as much about us as the one who is watching us walking through the desert. Maybe we are enduring this season so that someone else can be led to Christ.
13. Exodus 17:1-2 Pure and Simple, when we complain, we are testing God.
Think back to Platt’s three questions: “Is God really holy? Does he really know what is right for me? Does he really want what is best?”
14. Finally , check out Numbers 16:41, 49. If we continue to complain, God will give us over.
Read Romans 1:18-25. Complaining is all about a lack of gratitude. When we don’t give gratitude to the one who provided everything for us, it leads us to glorifying other things and beings. Eventually, God will let us go and the end is not good. We do not want to be separated from our Creator.
How did we become such complainers? I think it boils down to one or two reasons.
- We just really aren’t grateful for what the Lord has done for us. And/or
- We don’t feel forgiven or valued.
Go back to Romans 8 and read the whole chapter! If we are in a covenant relationship with Christ than we have an insurance policy. We are forgiven. If you go back to Romans 6 it tells us how this can even occur. Jesus already paid the price for you to have assurance of an eternity with God. Romans 6 explains how you accept that free gift. If you want to know more, send me a message and I would love to give you more passages to study or try to answer your questions.
In the meantime, here are three things to help you throw off the shackle of complaining and murmuring.
- Be careful what voices you listen to. Fill your life with wholesome and holy messages, not ones that breed discontent.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Start the day writing down 5 things you are thankful for. If you can’t think of one, did you wake up in a casket? No, then that is number 1. You get the idea!
- If you are still struggling…consider what is behind your struggle. Do you not feel forgiven or valued? Why? Spend time in prayer and meditation. Seek wise counsel from someone who can help you.
Now let’s go out there and not complain, imagine how we will stand out in the world!