The Cost of Complaining
There should be no place for grumbling in the Christian life.
That was a lesson that Israel learned the hard way (and learned slowly). After God freed them from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites received His law, were given His commands, and knew their destination. They eagerly set out to reach the promised land, but they hadn’t gone very far at all—barely around the first bend in the road—before they began to complain. They wanted meat to eat instead of manna, and they even wished they were back in Egypt (Numbers 11:4-6). Where once they had thought God’s daily provision of manna was a wonderful indication of His love for them, now they complained about having to eat the same old thing.
Grumbling seems to be a small thing, but it is a sign that gratitude is missing. Whenever unbelief and a lack of thankfulness mark the lives of God’s children, consequences are inevitable. We may not end up like the Israelites, who wandered in the desert for 40 years, but our own grumbling is not without a cost.
Do you remember when you first felt the excitement of your newfound faith? Maybe you bought your first copy of the New Testament and thought all you were discovering was fantastic. You read it everywhere. Then, perhaps, something happened along the journey; now it seems to be just “the same old Bible,” and you wish God would do something more dramatic, something better? Do you remember a time when sharing your faith seemed to be an exciting privilege—but now it feels like a burden and a duty? Do you remember a time when you were overflowing in gratitude for the cross—but now you find you focus more on the ways that God has not led you along the paths or to the places you would have preferred?
When the apostle Paul wrote to the early church, he reminded them of Israel’s story as a warning: “We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction” (1 Corinthians 10:9-11).
If we have faith in Christ, we’ve been set free from slavery to sin—even our complaining! We’ve been liberated by a sacrifice: the shedding of Christ’s blood on the cross. And we too have set out on a journey, not to Canaan but to heaven. In light of that, God has given us both wonderful promises and necessary warnings. Do not presume upon His provision or grumble about the route He leads you on, but instead be filled with gratitude for all He has provided materially and spiritually. The cross lies behind you, heaven lies before you, and the Spirit dwells within you. There is no need, or excuse, for grumbling.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
Let Us Sing Songs of Praise
1Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
3For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
4In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
5The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
6Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
7For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
Today, if you hear his voice,
8do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
9when your fathers put me to the test
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
10For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,
and they have not known my ways.”
11Therefore I swore in my wrath,
“They shall not enter my rest.”
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