"Do all things without grumbling or disputing; that you may 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."
- Mark 4:24 NKJV
I once heard a well-known minister of the Gospel talking about some of the experiences he and his wife had during their early years of marriage. Even though he is enjoying abundant prosperity now, there was a time when all he and his family could afford was a cold water flat to live in. Times were hard, and he and his wife were tempted to complain about their hardships. But the Holy Spirit gave this godly man a "knowing" that if he wanted the Lord to bless him in extraordinary ways, he and his wife must never grumble about their circumstances. This man and his family were overwhelmed with joy when just a few years later, they moved into a beautiful home with stately columns, surrounded by fragrant magnolia trees.
Before I began seriously studying the Bible, I didn't realize how destructive complaining could be. Now I know that it's offensive to God, and it can open the door for Satan to come into our lives to "steal, kill, and destroy." (John 10:10) The Old Testament accounts of the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years reveal to us that God despised His people's complaints, and often judged them for their grumbling. The apostle Paul refers to these accounts when he writes: "Don't grumble as some of them did, for that is why God sent His angel of death to destroy them. All these events happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us..." (1 Corinthians 10:10-11 NLT) The truth is that God takes our grumbling personally, and our complaints show a serious lack of gratitude for His boundless mercy and love for us. If you want to cut off the flow of God's blessings in your life, complaining is a good way to do it. On the other hand, being thankful for all He provides for us daily will cause Him to release His abundant blessings into our lives.
How would you feel if you gave someone a gift and they responded with indifference, criticism, or complaint? How about if they were overjoyed and overflowing with thankfulness? Their response would naturally determine your treatment of them to some degree. Should we be surprised if God sometimes feels the same way? It's all right to want to make progress and do better in various areas of our lives, but never to the extent that we fail to appreciate and give thanks for the blessings we already have. God expects more from His children than He does from the rest of the world. That's why He inspired Paul to write: "In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing, so that no one can speak a word of blame against you. You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people. Let your lives shine brightly before them." (Philippians 2:14-15 NLT) It's so natural for us to complain, that when we don't, we stand out - and people take notice. Do you really want to grab the attention of those people around you who desperately need the Lord in their lives? Refuse to complain or grumble when you're most tempted to. God promises that you'll make an impact on others when you obey Him in this area.
The next time you've got the perfect opportunity to let loose with a few complaints, remember what it can cost you. Instead, let a grateful God reward you for resisting the urge to grumble.
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for all the times I opened my mouth to grumble, instead of to give thanks. Give me a grateful heart, and teach me how to resist the urge to complain. When I obey You in this area, use my example to inspire others and draw them to You. Thank You for my present blessings, and for all those yet to come!
- J. M. Farro