Written by: Bill Elliff
Nobody enjoys a whiner. Being around a grateful, humble person is energizing. A grumbler sucks the life out of a relationship, a family, an organization. It kills momentum and creates deadly sideways energy.
The tragedy is that we’re usually unaware of our grumbling. In fact, we often feel perfectly justified in our whining.
God had redeemed the Israelites from 400 years of bondage in a stunningly merciful display of His power. Now, He was perfectly leading them from Egyptian slavery to Promised Land freedom. And all they could do was grumble. Notice the anatomy of their complaints. The following traits are almost universally true of ungrateful people.
GRUMBLERS ALWAYS FIND SOMEONE ELSE TO BLAME
Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said…(Exodus 17:2)
The problem is never their fault. It is the nature of the underlying pride that a grumbler carries to point their finger at somebody—anybody—and cast blame. Instead of being grateful for what they have, seeing the need around them and pitching in to help find a solution, they always manage to make it about others.
GRUMBLERS HAVE UNREASONABLE EXPECTATIONS
Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” (Exodus 17:2)
Moses couldn’t possibly create water for 3 million people out of thin air. But that makes no difference to a whiner. They want what they want and want it now. They live with a since of entitlement. If their leader doesn’t produce for them, they’re upset.
GRUMBLERS DON’T HESITATE TO BRING UP THE PAST…OFTEN
“Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock….” (Exodus 17:3c)
The past is glorified in the minds of those who can’t see God’s goodness now. They don’t mind reminding their leaders of what they had or what others did or did not do for them in the past. They are quick to string together a history of their own making to make their leaders look bad and themselves amazingly innocent. They love the terms “you always” and “I never.”
GRUMBLERS SAP THE LIFE OUT OF LEADERS
“So Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘What shall I do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.'” (Exodus 17:4)
A leader is so blessed to have those around him who encourage and help. Who put their shoulder to the wheel and find solutions to the problem. Who understand that their leader is just like them but has been placed by God in a position of authority and needs their help and prayers. But grumblers wear a leader out. Grumblers create problems and a leader usually spends more time dealing with their complaints than addressing the real problem.
GRUMBLERS TEST GOD
“Why do you test the LORD?” (Exodus 17:2c)
Those who are ungrateful try God’s patience. Because it is about them—their comfort, their recognition, their position, their agenda—God is not the center of attention. If He were, they would immediately recognize His blessings and fall down in gratitude. If there is a problem (such as the Israelites were experiencing in their need for water) they will look to the Lord in humility, acknowledging that He has never failed them before and trusting in His gracious provision.
It is important to note how God really feels about grumbling. When Paul identifies five cardinal sins that devastated his ancestors, grumbling is right on the list. Apparently this is a bigger issue with God than we realize.
Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (1 Corinthians 10:9-11)
At the base of a grumbling life you will always find a pride that is abhorrent to God. It’s the foundational sin He hates in us because it mars His most fearful and wonderful creation, diverts energy from the most important tasks, and robs thanksgiving and glory from the One who made us and have given us every good and perfect gift.
(Copyright, Bill Elliff)
2ProphetU is an online magazine/website, started by Warren Wiersbe and Michael Catt, to build up the church, seek revival, and encourage pastors.