Although I don’t like to admit many of my behaviors are sin in God’s eyes, at some level I realize they are: overspending, calling in to work sick when I’m not, cursing, just to name a few. One sin that I dismiss too easily is grumbling (also known as complaining, murmuring, venting). Venting is the term used mostly to justify the sin: “I just need to vent.” There are even websites for venting, providing ample excuses to do so and theories about how it can be beneficial! But as I study Scripture, I read how seriously God views this behavior. I was listening to Rev. Jeffress (Pathway to Victory) the other day and his sermon reminded me that when I complain (or vent or grumble or murmur) what I’m telling God is that I’m not happy with the life He has given me; that I feel short-changed somehow; that I feel I deserve better than what God has given me.
As we read about the Israelites wandering through the wilderness in the book of Numbers, there are many stories about their grumbling. There’s never enough water or food. They’re unhappy with Moses’ leadership. There are too many obstacles to entering the Promised Land. Most astonishing is their memories of life in Egypt. In Numbers 11:5 their distorted recollection of their lives in bondage reveals the level they sink to in order to justify their grumbling. But I am guilty of the same thing, convincing myself that there must be something better than what I have; that if my life were tweaked just a little here or there or re-vamped totally in other areas, I could be happy.
Numbers 11:18-20 – “Then you shall say to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the hearing of the Lord, saying, “Who will give us meat to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt.” Therefore the Lord will give you meat, and you shall eat. You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but for a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the Lord who is among you, and have wept before Him, saying, “Why did we ever come up out of Egypt?”’”
Like most of us, my job is the thing I grumble about most often. I’m not crazy about it. The skills required are not things I have ever been good at (math!!) and the training was practically non-existent. Until a few months ago, I decided that I didn’t want to work full time anymore. Each year that passed, I became more and more disappointed with the fact that I still had to work at this horrid little job – to pay off debt, to provide insurance for me and my husband. So I grumbled about the job, about having to work, about not being able to work part-time, about the people, the management, the resources – you name it, I complained about it. I half-heartedly tried to be joyful about this particular plan God had for me, but I kept waiting for His plan to change to match mine. I figured I had given Him 5 years of wandering in this particular wilderness and that should be enough. Surely I had earned the right to go into the Promised Land! But since the day I went to apply for the job I have known without a doubt that God put me in this place at this particular time. Even with little training and no background in this kind of work, God has granted to me the knowledge I need not only to perform my job but also to feel confident in it. And over the last few months, I have realized some things that have enabled me to get up and go to work with a godly, sincerely joyful attitude:
I know for a fact that God has placed me here and I cannot ignore that fact.
I had a list of the things I believed I “needed” in order to be fulfilled in a job and this one includes every one.
Almost without exception, each day I am presented with an opportunity to show God’s love.
I cannot put a timeframe on God’s plan. He will move me when He’s ready, not when I decide He should. I am there to serve Him and that is what I focus on.
I grieve God when I express how unhappy I am with what He has led me to. I want to demonstrate to Him that I have faith in what He’s doing and I will be a loyal servant to Him. I will do it with a glad heart, living out Jesus’ example.
Numbers 14:20-24 – “… all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it. But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.”
I wake up now knowing my job’s main purpose in my life is to serve God. I’m not a social person at all, so work is really one of the few opportunities I have to share Jesus. As I stop grumbling about it and remember its true purpose in my life, I find myself waking up each day excited to see what opportunities God is going to present me with. The grumbling is unwarranted. It’s telling God that I am unhappy with His plan for me. As I give myself over to Him and follow Him fully, I am blessed in so many ways. I inherit the land God wants me to live in – a life filled with joy, peace and contentment!
2 Corinthians 10:5 – “…casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…”
Rev. Jeffress’s sermon provided me with new thoughts to consider whenever I feel the urge to grumble. There are a lot of people around me who make grumbling a regular part of the day and when I cannot redirect the conversation, I just check out of it. I cannot be a party to it. I cannot glorify God by grumbling about the life He has given me. God has revealed to me that He considers it a great sin even if the world does not. And He provides me with a way out of it:
Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.”