[ 3 minutes to read ]
“Neither murmur ye,
as some of them also murmured,
and were destroyed of the destroyer.”
~ 1 Corinthians 10:10
Murmuring. I don’t know why this stuck out to me. It really grabbed my attention. Murmuring. Let’s see. O yes, that’s the sin almost nobody remembers is a sin. It is also a universal practice; some would say art form. What is murmuring? It is complaining, grumbling, muttering, etc. Murmuring is experiencing or expressing dissatisfaction with some reality. For instance, the laborers complained about the wages the householder paid in the parable of the householder (Matthew 20:1-15).
Our world is filled with complaining. People complaining everywhere—in line at the store, waiting rooms, church fellowship, internet forums, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Start the day sometime with the determined purpose that you are going to be alert all day to people complaining. You will probably be surprised at how much you hear—I’ve had the worst day, the line is too long, the pump is too slow, the wind is too cold, this burger has pickles on it, and on and on it goes.
The Bible commands us not to complain. Our text is one of those instances. If the Bible forbids us from doing something, the doing of it is sin. Complaining is sin. It is one of the sins that brought punishment on the Israelites in the wilderness: “some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.”
Paul wrote that the Israelites “were our examples” (1 Corinthians 10:6) that we should learn from and not be like them. Complaining was one of the people’s characteristics along with lust, rebellion, idolatry, fornication, stubbornness, and other things that don’t exactly look good on a resume. So let’s take a few moments and think about complaining.
When we complain, we are expressing dissatisfaction with something as it is. The implication is that we would prefer that thing to be different. We might feel slighted, cheated, wronged, impatient, angry, manipulated, disliked, or something else but at the root of it complaining is dissatisfaction.
If we are dissatisfied with some reality and would prefer it to be something else, we are actually complaining against God. We are calling God’s wisdom into question when we complain about the rain that ruined our picnic. We are calling God’s justice into question when we complain about that coworker who has wronged us many times and still seems to get promoted. Ultimately, our complaint is against God.
Complaining is also contagious. It spreads like an infection. This seems obvious from the example of Israel, but we have also experienced it. I was once sitting in a waiting room with several other people. Everybody was sitting quietly and waiting. Then a disgruntled woman comes in and begins airing her complaints. Several others were quick to join in and add their complaints of the day to the floor. When we complain, we are encouraging others to do the same.
Complaining also contains an element of human pride. We might be seeking to exalt ourselves by complaining against others. We might be complaining because we feel that we should never be treated or be subjected to something as we are. In complaining we are boasting of ourselves, our worth, and what we deserve in our own mind.
Complaining is also a lie. Generally when we are complaining, we are dissatisfied with people and circumstances outside of ourselves. We think everyone and everything else is the problem, the root of our distress. The truth is: Complaining is the defilement of our own heart coming out of our mouth and defiling us before God and the world.
Complaining is sin. It is a sin for which people are condemned and it is a sin for which Christ died. We would do well to think about our complaining on the cross. Hanging between heaven and earth, Jesus Christ bore all the complaining of all His people. Speak of a contradiction of sinners against Him. The One who when “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).
I pray that we take God’s Word to heart: “Neither murmur ye.”