“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…” Philippians 2:14-16
Recently, the sin of grumbling has come to my attention. It has come to my attention because I have become increasingly aware of my own tendency to grumble when something is not going the way I had planned. Grumbling is often overlooked when we contemplate sin because when we think about sin, the big sins usually come to mind: unbelief, sexual immorality, violence, etc. Even though grumbling might be a sin we often over look or give a pass to, it is not inconsequential.
When Moses led the people of Israel in the wilderness, one of the things that repeatedly got them in trouble was their sin of grumbling. They grumbled about the water, they grumbled about being hungry, and then they grumbled that they were tired of the food God did provide. In 1 Corinthians chapter 10, Paul reminds the believers in Corinth to avoid Israel’s mistakes. And listed among them is the sin of grumbling.
Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” 8 Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. 9 Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. 10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. (emphasis mine)
Notice the sins that grumbling is listed among: craving evil, idolatry, immorality, trying the Lord. Those are things we would classify as big sins, are they not? And yet grumbling is right in among them. I think it is safe to say that God does not see grumbling as a minor issue. And I believe that is because of what is at the root of grumbling: a rebellious heart.
Ultimately, when we grumble, what we are really saying is that we reject God’s sovereignty. God is sovereign over all creation. Over things we would deem good, and things we would deem bad.
I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things (Isaiah 45:7)
Weather for correction, or for HIs world, or for loving kindness, He causes it to happen. (Job 37:13)
All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?” (Daniel 4:13)
Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2:10)
Is a trumpet blown in a city,
and the people are not afraid?
Does disaster come to a city,
unless the LORD has done it? (Amos 3:6)
Then the LORD said to [Moses], “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?” (Exodus 4:11)
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. . . . Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)
Weather you are a born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ or not, He is still sovereign over every detail of your life. The difference should be that if you are one of His children through faith in Jesus Christ, you recognize and joyfully submit to His sovereign will. This is a mark of a true believer.
Do you believe God is who He says He is? Do you believe He is completely good? Do you believe He knows best? Do you trust Him? These are questions to ask yourself the next time you are tempted to grumble over your circumstances. If your answer is “yes”, then demonstrate that belief by being in submission to the One who ordains all things. And if you fall short and sin by grumbling, repent and rejoice that forgiveness is available. His mercies are new every morning!
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Soli deo Gloria!