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(13) God is the one who enables you both to want and to actually live out his good purposes. (14) Do everything without grumbling and arguing

Philippians 2:13-14 (CEB)

Hello Readers, hope all’s well. Time for another post.

The day before I finished writing this post, I went to church at a church other than my own. My church was closed that day for COVID safety (using caution and leaning on the safe side). But this other church was open and I was invited, so I made the trip over there.

And I’m very glad I did. I listened to a great message that morning, which had me more fired up for God and I left with a lot of ideas for what I can do Spiritually this year to get closer to God. I also got some ideas for my next few blog posts, coming soon. It was a great start to the day and I was feeling good; what could go wrong??

Well, on the way home I got pulled over by the cops. That was a surprise, because I wasn’t speeding or driving weird or anything like that. What was the problem?? I guess we could call it an “administrative” matter. They wrote me a ticket for $100 because I had too many car registration stickers in my window. Yep, that’s right, turns out it actually is a ticket-able offense in my country to have more than one car registration sticker on the window. I didn’t know that before, but I do now. Well, the cops saw that and ticketed me for it.

Damn it!! That’s $100 lost over nothing!!

Now that’s something to complain about right?? I mean, I’d be justified to complain over a thing like that, right??

It’s funny, when I got home and sat down to write, today’s blog post was the post I needed to finish that day. And today’s post is all about complaining—why God warns against it, why it hurts us, and so on. My unexpected $100 ticket had made the blog post more real to me, and had given me a chance to practice what I preach here. I didn’t complain anymore about that ticket, choosing instead to focus on the good I experienced that day.

Because complaining is harmful and counter-productive. Read on, and let me tell you why.

You Complain, You Die??

Sometimes I think about Numbers, and the second half of Exodus. One thing that strikes me is … God is very tough on complaining. He even punishes the act of complaining with death. It seems harsh to me, to be honest, like the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

The most shocking example of this is Numbers 14:26-30, when God sentences tens of thousands to death because they complained.

(26) The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron: (27) How long will this wicked community complain against me? I’ve heard the Israelites’ dissent as they continue to complain against me. (28) Say to them, “As I live,” says the LORD, “just as I’ve heard you say, so I’ll do to you. (29) Your dead bodies will fall in this desert. None of you who were enlisted and were registered from 20 years old and above, who complained against me, (30) will enter the land in which I promised to settle you, with the exception of Caleb, Jephunneh’s son, and Joshua, Nun’s son.

Numbers 14:26-30 (CEB)

Well, every situation in the Bible is there to teach us something. In 1 Corinthians this desert scene is called out as being an example for us.

(10) Let’s not grumble, like some of them did, and were killed by the destroyer. (11) These things happened to them as an example and were written as a warning for us to whom the end of time has come.

1 Corinthians 10:10-11 (CEB)

What can we learn from God’s treatment of the Israelites in the desert … besides the implied fact that God hates our complaining??

Complaining Hurts

The lesson to learn from the desert story is: Complaining hurts. And how is that??

Complaining does nothing to solve whatever problem we’re complaining about. Complaints are a waste of breath. Complaining doesn’t help us arrive at a solution, doesn’t help us plan. Complaining does nothing for us, nothing. Complaining is a waste of time when facing any situation. Our time is much better spent asking the LORD for help with the problem, or strategizing and planning a way out of it. If we complain, all we do is make our current hardship more painful for no reason.

For more insight into this, I defer to an article called “20 Important Bible Verses About Murmuring” by Bible Reasons. They point out good reasons not to complain, such as causing unneeded stress and putting us in an unGrateful mood. I recommend checking out their article, but here is some of what they have to say:

Why is it so dangerous to murmur?
It does nothing, but causes unneeded stress.
You might get what you want just like the Israelites got the food they craved in full.
You forget all the things God has done for you.
The Israelites were killed because of it.
It deteriorates your faith.
It gives Satan an opportunity to sneak in. It opens us up to his many lies.

Bible Reasons, “20 Important Bible Verses About Murmuring,” https://biblereasons.com/murmuring/

Let’s zoom in on reason #3: “You forget all the things God has done for you.” This is especially important. It angers God when we forget about all He’s done for us, even though in our pain we are guaranteed to do that sometimes. We’re only human. But the thing we’ve got to understand is, besides angering God, unGratefulness makes us lose perspective. We lose sight of the good and only see the bad. This is another great danger of complaining. It warps our perspective, making us see only the bad and even misremembering the good of the past.

The Israelites also forgot all that God had done for them, bringing them out of slavery in Egypt. They only saw their present hardship, and ignored the brutal suffering of the past that made them call out to God for freedom in the first place. Their complaining even made them falsely romanticize their past, seeing it in better terms than it was in reality. They said “we should go back to Egypt, because at least there we got to eat meat and fish!!” They were remembering their past wrong, and forgetting the true conditions of their lives in Egypt. At the same time they were also devaluing the manna from God, right in front of them. I’ve made this logical fallacy myself too, in my own life. How about you??

(4) The riffraff among them had a strong craving. Even the Israelites cried again and said, “Who will give us meat to eat? (5) We remember the fish we ate in Egypt for free, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. (6) Now our lives are wasting away. There is nothing but manna in front of us.”

Numbers 11:4-6 (CEB)

The trick to avoid complaining, and to remaining Grateful is to be content in Christ in every circumstance, as Paul says in Philippians 4.

(11) I’m not saying this because I need anything, for I have learned how to be content in any circumstance. (12) I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor. (13) I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:11-13 (CEB)

When we remain Grateful for what we have in Christ Jesus—and what we have is everything—we can always keep things in the right perspective. Yeah life gets hard sometimes; Jesus never promised us things would be easy down here on earth. But if we persevere in following God through this often-painful life, we will come out way on top in the end. Because God is always working things out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Another way to phrase that?? God is good to those who Believe in Him.

It’s not all Bad

Let me return to my story about getting a ticket because of my car registration stickers.

I know God wanted me to go to this other church to hear this message, this particular day I got the ticket. So I can only say God either wanted me to also get the $100 administrative ticket on the way back, or He was going to allow me to suffer that simply as part of the “cost” of hearing the great message at the church that day. One of the Bible readings that day was James 1, which has a famous verse about standing firm during testing. Maybe God wanted me to feel and experience some testing for me to stand firm through it!! It’s possible, who knows.

(12) Those who stand firm during testing are blessed. They are tried and true. They will receive the life God has promised to those who love him as their reward.

James 1:12 (CEB)

When I looked at it the situation as the message I got that day cost me $100, I realized the situation was not all bad. It wasn’t all good either, of course, because I don’t want to pay $100. That’s a loss and a setback, but the day I had was not all bad. If I said the day was all bad because of the one ticket, that would be a loss of perspective.

I definitely got a lot out of the message I heard at church that day. That made it a great day, and I was in a great mood when I left the church. Then I got a ticket. That was 20 minutes out of my great day, and $100 out of my funds. Ouch, too bad. But does that 20 minutes and $100 cancel out and erase the goodness of the day I was feeling before that?? Of course not!! If I complained about the ticket, I would be focused on the bad part of the day, and lose sight of the good.

Complaining does nothing to help us. It only hurts us. All it does is make our present hardship even harder to deal with. God has given us many examples in Scripture about complaining. Why shouldn’t we do it, besides the fact it makes God angry (and that’s reason enough of course)?? Because it’s bad for us too!!

When we complain, we zoom in on our problems and suffering while we zoom out from the good we do have in our life. We forget what God has already done for us. And we can even misremember the past, romanticizing situations we were desperate to escape when we were in them.

To avoid making God angry, unneeded stresses and more, let’s remember to be content in Christ in all situations … and stop complaining!!

(13) God is the one who enables you both to want and to actually live out his good purposes. (14) Do everything without grumbling and arguing

Philippians 2:13-14 (CEB)

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Until next time, be strong and do good!!

Your new best friend in Christ,

99:9

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One comment on “The Cost of Complaining

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