Complaining is probably one of the most respectable sins among people who claim to know Christ as Savior, next to things such as gossip, an occasional use of profanity or white lies. We usually don’t see it as someone who is complaining-it is usually the person with a bad attitude. After all, it does not seem that bad of a thing or that big of a deal because. everyone complains. We are only human. But this cannot easily be brushed aside as some small sin and Christians need to consider their attitude because it really exposes what they think about God.
Do you realize that this sin was severely punished under the Old Covenant? It was the most common sin of Israel after they left Egypt (Ex 15:24; 16:2; 17:3; Num. 14:2, 29). Paul says to the Corinthians: “You must stop complaining, as some of them were doing, and were annihilated by the destroyer.” (1 Cor 10:10 ISV). Annihilated? Yes. You are terminated.
It makes you wonder how with all the blessings we have in the New Covenant how God views complaining. Since everything described in the New Covenant is “better” (Heb. 8:6).
It should be very clear: there’s nothing wrong with going to God directly in prayer and pouring out complaints before Him. He knows our thoughts before we think them and our words before we speak them (Psalm 139). Asaph prayed, “I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble.” (Psalm 142:2). We are allowed to come and complain directly to the Lord (Psalm 77:2-3). BUT what we should not do is complain to others, look for self pity or grow a huge attitude about something that we should be directing to God in prayer. That is third-party complaining. It is bad enough when we think about how rough our lives are but when it starts dripping out of our mouths in muffled tones like spiritual sewage there is a problem. Stop walking around talking to yourself about how mistreated and misunderstood you are. God can hear you and He does not like it. All this is about is you wanting to have a one sided conversation with a total disregard for God’s input.
Complaining is having a grievance against God that results in cynical distrust in God’s ways. God asks, “Why do you complain…how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles? …How can you say God ignores your rights?” (Isaiah 40:27NIV/NLT). This is when a person mumbles bitterly against God. They are unhappy with Him and the way he does things. They are miserable because of conflicts with people or circumstances. They are resentful for what they see as being unfairly treated by God. But they maintain a veneer of religion and worship. Yet, they accuse God of wrongdoing under their breath. They make sure their complaining is heard but not too loud. They insinuate against the Lord’s character and make sure they make some kind of dig at God without him noticing. They do not scream in protest but as one man puts says they have, “the whispers and looks of discontent.” (Wagner). Complaining hints that God is not in control or it suggests he does not care for his own people. It diminishes God’s glory.
Complaining is a deep rooted heart condition that is seen as a cynical attitude. Complaining is the habit of those who have had difficulty gaining a biblical mindset and godly perspective on the trials of life-because their expectations are unrealistic and unwise. So they are angry and depressed. Eventually their issues with God manifest in other ways. You usually see complaining where people are unfulfilled and unhappy creating an atmosphere charged with nitpicking, arguing and negativity that eats away at relationships (James 4:1-3). In 1 Corinthians 10 it is the last step before the cliff of total rejection by God of an entire generation of people and Paul intends to warn and threaten the church at Corinth with this truth.
You say, “Wow, that is ugly.”
Indeed it is. Especially for Christians who claim to love and obey God.
The New Testament teaches, “Do everything without complaining and arguing.” (Phil 2:14). Well there it is-everything. There is no amnesty where you can get away with a chronically bad attitude. It can ruin your life and your soul. My suggestion to cure this sickness of the soul is to talk to God in prayer and ask him to forgive you. Ask him to help you to learn contentment by trusting that he is faithful to his promises and will give you the strength to endure hardship. Study the lives of people in the Bible and read the biographies of Christians who suffered and remained faithful to God. Find mature Christian’s who have endured difficulty and talk to them about your challenges. It will encourage you to know that you are among people in a fellowship of sufferings that desire to identify with Christ (Phil. 3:7-10), who want to grow in his grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18) and have a better resurrection (Heb 11:35). Ask God to make you a testimony to others so that you can help others with the comfort you have received from God (2 Cor 1: 3-7).
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