If you have a problem with grumbling, then you're not alone. The Old Testament book of Numbers could easily be renamed The Grumbler Chronicles. The Children of Israel grumbled against Moses, Aaron, and God.
I wonder what we would find if we could do a little open-heart surgery on a complainer. Exploratory surgery will reveal that grumbling can be a form of heart disease—"rebellion against authority" (see Job 23:2). At other times, complaining is a loss of perspective—a failure to remember Who is in control. An attitude that wonders, "Does God really know what's best for me?" Jude 16 tells us that complaining germinates in a selfish heart—"These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts ..."
But generally it's a person who is dissatisfied with their lot in life—the circumstances God has allowed to come their way. The Children of Israel's grumbling was only symptomatic of a far more fatal disease—unbelief—a lack of faith that God knew what He was doing.
1. Realize that complaining is dangerous.
We know the enemy of our souls doesn't want us to fulfill God's intended purpose for our lives. If he can't derail me, or you, because of lust or immorality in our private lives, then the devil will seek a different bait for his trap. For many of us, that snare is the temptation to gripe, grumble, and complain against God (1 Corinthians 9:24-10:13).
2. Remember, God knows what He is doing.
Joseph puts me under the pile—He was thrown into a pit by his brothers, sold by them into slavery, unjustly accused of fooling around with Potiphar's wife, thrown into prison, forgotten by a friend he had helped—and yet Scripture doesn't record a single complaint.
He could've become bitter against his brothers, or smashed his fist against the prison walls and complained that his circumstances were unjust. But he didn't.
What was the secret of his complaint-free life? The answer is in Genesis 45:5-8 where we find Joseph, now the Governor of Egypt, addressing his starving brothers, "And now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves ... because God has sent me before you to preserve life." Three times in four verses Joseph says—"God sent me here." Talk about a perspective that comes as a result of an uncommon faith in an Omnipotent God.
Joseph grasped the truth that God is in control, and that He knows what He is doing.
3. Put away past complaints that may have become bitterness.
A grudge is an aging complaint still being held against another person. The longer you carry a complaint against another, the greater the probability it will become a grudge too heavy to handle. Complaining can give birth to resentment. "Be hospitable to one another without complaint" (1 Peter 4:9).
If you have a complaint against a brother, go to him in private and clear the slate.
4. Keep on "giving thanks in all things" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
This is not just some "power of positive thinking" approach. No, I will never "give thanks" unless I see God as The Sovereign Ruler of the Universe, at work in my life through my circumstances.
Adapted by permission from "Attitude Check—Do You Have a Heart Problem?" by Dennis Rainey. © FamilyLife, www.familylife.com. All rights reserved.
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Walt and Ann Bealke have been married for a long time, just not to each other. They are now 5 years into their marriage (the third for each of them), and are seeing God redeem their pasts and build a Gospel-centered marriage.
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