Our modern culture is breeding self-absorbed, complaining snobs. We complain about everything: including the weather, traffic, food, standing in lines, the temperature, as well as most everything else.
We Christians are being infected by the world as we blindly imbibe the world’s philosophy through its media. We have become “what’s in it for me” Christians.
The more indulged we are, the more sullen, complaining and self-absorbed we become. Next to pride, few sins are uglier to God and to all of us than complaining. The current over-emphasis on self esteem helps feed this sin.
It was the same in Paul’s day. That’s why in Philippians 2:14-16 he warns the Philippian Christians to beware of complaining and disputing. Those complaints and disputes are ultimately with God who controls our circumstances.
COMPLAIN AND GRIPING, A SIN FROM THE BEGINNING OF TIME
Complaining and griping have been with the human race from the beginning of time. When Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, when confronted by God, he blamed Him. “The woman YOU gave me caused me to eat the forbidden fruit.”
When Cain was punished by God for bringing the wrong kind of sacrifice, he complained to God about his punishment. “My punishment is greater than I can bear.”
When God chose Moses to lead Israel out of their bondage of 400 years in Egypt, Israel complained against Moses repeatedly as they traveled through the wilderness. Miriam, Moses’ older sister, complained to Moses and was struck with leprosy. Patient Moses prayed for her and she was healed.
COMPLAING AND GRIPING ARE CONTAGIOUS
While traveling through the wilderness, three men: Korah, Dathan and Abiram complained against Moses and his leadership. God was furious with these three men and as they stood by their tents with their families, the earth opened up under them and these three men with their families and all they possessed were swallowed and buried alive. That put a stop to the complaining of Israel for awhile.
When Israel was about to enter their Promised Land of Canaan, they sent spies into the land to see if they could conquer it. Ten of twelve spies brought back an evil, pessimistic report. They led the people to complain against Moses and against God. God punished the older generation by allowing them to continue wandering in the wilderness for forty more years until all that generation had died. Then the younger generation led by Joshua entered and conquered the land.
NO GRIPING TOLERATED
That was the sign that greeted me over the door inside every dormitory room at Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C. when I came there as a Freshman student in the Fall of 1952. “No griping tolerated: Constructive suggestions appreciated.” I don’t know whether those signs were ever removed, but I know that if I had any thoughts of griping, that put a stop to it right there. With over three thousand students at that time, can you imagine how quickly griping could have spread through the entire student body if it got started? Since griping is a sin, that was a wise rule.
COMPLAINING AND GRIPING ARE UGLY SINS
In Romans 9 we learn the truth of God’s sovereign election. That is, He makes us with our strengths and weaknesses for His own divine purpose. In verse 20 we are warned against griping and complaining. “Nay, but O Man, who are you to reply against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, ‘Why hast Thou made me thus? Has not the potter the power and the right over the clay to make one vessel for honorable purposes and another for dishonorable purposes?” God can make a Billy Graham to preach before tens of millions and counsel with ten US presidents. He can make a Mal Bicker to preach to small congregations all his life. We have no right to question nor complain against His sovereign will.
HOW TO BE VICTORIOUS OVER COMPLAINING
In Philippians 2:12-13 Paul told us how to avoid a life of complaining and griping. We are to concentrate on working out the salvation that God worked in when we put our trust in Christ. Furthermore, in verse 14 we are shown the attitude with which we are to live our lives- without complaining and disputing. James 5:7-11 teaches the same truth and reminds us the Judge stands just outside the door. Remember as a kid when you use to complain to a brother or sister about something in the privacy of your bedroom and then you found Mom or Dad standing just outside the door listening to everything? That was a panicky feeling, was it not? Remember that the next time you complain. Christ, the Judge stands just outside the door about to return.
Don’t complain. Rather, remember the goodness of God. Psalm 77.
WHY WE SHOULD NOT COMPLAIN
1. We should not complain for our own sakes. Complaining Christians are not attractive. They are depressing to be around. People avoid them.
2. Titus 2:10 challenges us to adorn the Gospel of Christ and the reality of being Christians by our lives. Paul, in Philippians 2:14-15 writes, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings that ye may be blameless and harmless, the Son of God, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in a dark world.
3. Finally, Paul challenges the Philippian Christians to live such a positive, joyful life that even if he has to be sacrificed and martyred for preaching the Gospel, he may rejoice for the blessed privilege of helping them become joyful Christians. If you have such a pastor, bless him by not being a complainer, but a rejoicer and encourager.
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