Grumbling or Patience?
This part of Exodus occurs after the miracle of crossing the Red Sea on dry ground with a wall of water on each side. Now, in the desert, the people complain about the lack of food. We forget God's providence so quickly!
We complain about people who don’t do what they promised, who violate our security or privacy, who don’t do what they should do, who destroy our property, who don’t co-operate when we are already late, who misinterpret our motives, or who blame us falsely.
We are irritated by people who are forgetful, late, incompetent, oppressive, inconsiderate, unreliable, or erratic drivers.
We are annoyed by our own failings, frailties, forgetfulness, mistakes, and imperfections.
We grumble about machinery and computers that break down just when we need them, cars that get flat tires, lights that turn red, line-ups that don’t move, anything that delays us, and events that take a long time coming.
We become impatient with God when He doesn’t heal us or someone we love, doesn’t keep loved ones alive longer, doesn’t punish evildoers but allows them to prosper, doesn’t answer prayer, and doesn’t do what we want.
The Common Factors
- We complain when things don’t go the way WE want.
- We grumble when we can’t control or do anything about what’s happening.
- Philippians 2:14-15 – 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.
Why Not Complain?
- When there is something that we can do to change our circumstances, simply complaining about it can cause us to become stuck, instead of making the necessary changes.
- Complaining is toxic. Negative attitudes sap our energy, drain our joy, and put others on the defensive.
- Exodus 16:8 – The Lord hears your complaints which you make against Him. And what are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the Lord.
- God is sovereign – in control – He allows circumstances that can shape our Christian character.
The Cure 1. If we can't change our circumstances, we can change our attitude to patience
- Romans 12:2 - Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
- We can decide to trust God’s providence, guidance, goodness, and care.
- Grumbling and complaining are basically questioning God’s wisdom and love.
- Romans 9:20-21 – But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay?
- When others do better, or are given honour, wealth, recognition, popularity, success.
- Why do the wicked prosper?
- Psalm 37:9-10 – For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, but it shall be no more.
- When something happens that we’ve prayed for, we usually say our prayer was answered.
- But there are other answers: “No!” “Wait!” “Not now!” and “I have something better!”
- God’s timetable is different from ours.
- God is God and we aren’t – don’t be frustrated.
- We are not in control, but God is wise, loving, kind and good – all the time!
The essence of sin is pride
We want things our way, according to our schedule. We consider our self the most important person. We want to be in control, to have our opinion prevail, to have everything revolve around our self. We overlook our own faults, but display a lack of forgiveness for others’ failings.
- Put to death “the old self”
- Romans 6:6 – We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.
- Colossians 3:9-10 – You have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
- Ephesians 4:22 – You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires.
3. Give Thanks
- 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
- Giving thanks releases God’s power to intervene on our behalf.
- We have very little to compare our lives with. Before you complain about the taste of your food, think of someone who has nothing to eat, and be grateful for what you have. Before a red light irritates you, think of the one who didn't make it through the light at all, and be grateful for your life.
- Distinguish complaining from holy discontent: a desire to improve something for God's glory, rather than for our own convenience.