4 Reasons to Stop Grumbling

Aussies love to grumble. We moan about the government, traffic, petrol prices, weather, and the line for the self-service checkouts at Woolies. It has become part of the culture, but complaining is also intrinsic to our sinful human hearts.

The Bible shows that grumbling has been a problem for humans for a very long time—and that it’s not acceptable for Christians. Here are four biblical reasons why we should stick a lid on our complaints.

1. Grumbling is a sin

This is the fundamental reason. It should be enough that God prohibits us from grumbling: “Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.” (James 5:9)

We may think we’re getting away with all our mutterings, but God hears them all. As the mighty Judge, he will return at any moment and hold all the world to account for what they have said and done in this life.

2. Grumbling reveals our rebellious attitude towards God

It’s not just the complaints themselves that are so offensive to God. What lies behind our words is dissatisfaction with God—we believe that he isn’t giving us what is best. You may think your grumbling isn’t that serious. But what’s the attitude of your heart when you complain about the weather? You’re annoyed because the rain or the heat interferes with your plans, as if they are wiser and more important than God’s plans.

We are just like the Israelites. During their time wandering in the wilderness, they seem to do nothing but complain (Exodus 15:24, 16:7; Deuteronomy 1:27). Even though God had rescued his people from slavery in Egypt, they didn’t thank or worship him.

This grumbling prompted the wrath of God, as it still does today: “We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” (1 Corinthians 10:9–11)

3. Grumbling keeps us from loving others

We fail to rightly love others when we complain about them. Consider the anger that is stirred up in your heart against the other drivers in a traffic jam. We think our own ease and preferences are more important than theirs.

The apostle Peter writes: “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another…” (1 Peter 4:7–10a)

Genuine love comes from the heart. It’s not enough to show hospitality while complaining about how inconvenient and costly it is to you—even if they overstay their welcome and leave dishes piled up in the sink. Love demands that we kill the grumbling spirit within us.

4. Grumbling damages our witness

Pride is the foundation of grumbling, so it’s not surprising that Paul tackles this issue after he’s talked about the humility Jesus models:

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” (Philippians 2:14–15)

Notice the two reasons behind Paul’s exhortation not to grumble. First, it is the behaviour fitting to children of God. As we’ve already seen, grumbling is sin, and we ought to live blameless lives.

Secondly, a church that doesn’t grumble will stand out. Because complaining is so rampant in the “crooked and twisted generation” around us, our cheerfulness will make us witnesses to the truth. When people notice that we act differently, we can point them to the all-satisfying God who supplies all our needs.

Living in a complaint-saturated culture like Australia is both a challenge and an opportunity. It’s hard not to go with the flow—we must intentionally put our sinful flesh to death. But when we defeat grumbling by the power of the Spirit, we will stand out even more clearly for the cause of the gospel.

10 Comments

  1. Eliana July 31, 2019 at 12:27 am

    What a refreshing reminder! I am prone to grumbling despite being American, so this article was good for me. 😉

    Reply
    1. Cassie Watson August 2, 2019 at 10:47 pm

      Thank you Eliana! I’m glad it helped you—I certainly needed it myself.

      Reply
  2. Brian August 3, 2019 at 11:07 pm

    A very timely and much needed reminder for me. Thank you for posting this and, most importantly, thank you for keeping it biblical!

    Reply
    1. Cassie Watson August 5, 2019 at 12:31 am

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Brian! I’m so glad God used this article for your good.

      Reply
  3. Pingback: Just In Case You Missed It – July 30-August 3, 2019 | Worldly Saints

  4. Pingback: 4 Reasons to Stop Grumbling – Reformed faith salsa style

  5. mary beth shipley August 6, 2019 at 4:14 am

    This is excellent! I have shared this with so many people, thank you so much for such a fantastic daily advice in godliness and obedience!

    Reply
  6. Jim August 28, 2019 at 9:34 pm

    Hi Cassie,
    Blessed with your gems of wisdom about grumbling. Will share it this Sunday among worshipers here in
    the Philippines. ☺️
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Cassie Watson September 3, 2019 at 2:07 pm

      Hi, Jim! I’m so glad this article was a blessing to you. Thank you for your kind words.

      Reply
  7. Michael A Martinez Jr May 18, 2021 at 12:26 am

    Love your heart for putting this out there,,,, but there is much more to it. Here is a teaching of a book written in the 1600’s

    “ The Spirit of Murmuring (Grumbling) Reveals a Spirit of Discontent
    Recently, I read a most timely book*. Though it was written in 1645, during a time when Christians were suffering great persecution from the Roman Catholic Church, it has been most helpful to me. Every believer experiences light afflictions from time to time. We call them “light” because that’s what they are compared to the far greater glory yet to be revealed in us (2 Corinthians 4:17). Sometimes our afflictions are a chastisement for sin but often they’re just how the Lord works his sanctifying grace in us. Over the years Jeremiah Burroughs’ book has helped countless Christians face their afflictions with the understanding that all that happens in their lives is according to God’s good purpose for them. It doesn’t make the suffering any less painful, but has helped in not letting the afflictions become a cause to stumble in our faith.
    Moreover, learning to be content in the Lord through our difficult trials has been the greatest challenge that I believe we must learn in our Christian lives. Though in this life we will not by any stretch come to a state of full contentment, this “jewel” in the Christian life is indeed “rare” since the struggle against a spirit of discontent in all of us is on-going. We grumble and complain against almost anything that goes against how we think things ought to be, whether it’s circumstances or other people that God, in His providence, brings into our lives. There many circumstances that we do not have control over. They make our lives uncomfortable or uneasy, whether that involves persecution or oppression from unbelievers (which is what the original readers of Burroughs’ book were experiencing) or other trials. Many circumstances that we complain about also involve the areas of work, finances, health, state of affairs in our country or even our churches. Even the outcome of a football game stirs up discontent – “Maybe I should support another more ‘winning’ team.” We complain about other people; we don’t like their personality, or the way they conduct themselves (though they are not living in unrepentant sin); we don’t like the way a person performs their tasks in their labors.
    Within many churches there is much discontent amongst the saints in Christ. This sinful spirit is a pervasive problem. We see it when people find fault with others. We see it when they are discontent that those visiting the church are not actually joining the church. We see it when there isn’t enough work being shared by the other members. Yet we find these facts just about any church we attend. Beloved in the Lord, it is one thing when the ungodly murmur (grumble) and complain. We would expect a discontented spirit possessing an unbeliever. However, when those who profess faith in Christ complain they possess a spirit that is contrary to the Spirit of Christ that dwells in him or her (Philippians 2:14-15). Yet it must be kept in mind that just because a person is saved and has died to sin being delivered from the dominion of sin having been baptized into Christ, he nevertheless still wrestles with the sin that remains present with him that battles against the Spirit of Christ and His righteousness (Romans 6:6; 7:20-21; Galatians 5:17). And oftentimes, the old man (the sin that dwells in our members) wins the battle, whether we are aware of it or not. This leads to the subject of this article concerning murmuring and complaining, which is drawn from a very small but powerful section of Jeremiah Burroughs’ book on contentment.
    He writes, “As contentment argues much grace, and strong grace, and beautiful grace, so murmuring argues much corruption, and strong corruption, and very vile corruption in your heart” (p. 79). The vile corruption of the heart is a discontented heart that is manifested in murmuring and complaining. The power of this statement is seen in the Epistle of Jude.
    In Jude, verse 14 and 15, we read, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” (Jude 1:14-15, NKJV).
    In the verses quoted here we are told of the condition of the ungodly, which is a state of discontent. We are told that the ungodly live their lives in an ungodly way, and in their ungodly conversation they speak against the Lord. It is to these ungodly people the Lord will come with “ten thousands of His saints” to execute His eternal punishment, having convicted them (found them guilty) of their wickedness. Now, when we think about ungodly people we might think that it is easy to identify them by their behavior. They are drunkards, thieves, murderers, adulterers and fornicators. Or we identify the ungodly by the words they speak. They are those who are using foul language, speaking blasphemies against God and even denying His very existence. And in thinking only in this way, you might think to yourself that since you do not act that way or speak with such disrespect toward the Lord, these verses are not talking about you. As a believer in Christ this would be considered irreprehensible conduct and inconsistent with those who have been born again by the Holy Spirit and implanted with the love of God in their hearts. However, we must consider the next verse in Jude that describes these ungodly people that is different than what we might think, and which is oftentimes overlooked or just simply ignored.
    We read in verse 16, “These are grumblers, complainers . . .” In this verse those who are identified as ungodly are “grumblers,” or “murmurers” (King James Version) and complainers. When believers engage in murmuring and complaining, are they not conducting themselves in the same way as the ungodly? According to Scripture, they absolutely are! In murmuring or grumbling we are expressing discontent in our circumstances, or as it has been defined, “grumbling is a species of immoderate complaint about one’s allotted circumstances.” How many of us have grumbled about our circumstances? In that moment, are we not exercising a rebellious spirit against God’s Providence? The Spirit of Murmuring (Grumbling) Reveals a Spirit of Discontent
    Recently, I read a most timely book*. Though it was written in 1645, during a time when Christians were suffering great persecution from the Roman Catholic Church, it has been most helpful to me. Every believer experiences light afflictions from time to time. We call them “light” because that’s what they are compared to the far greater glory yet to be revealed in us (2 Corinthians 4:17). Sometimes our afflictions are a chastisement for sin but often they’re just how the Lord works his sanctifying grace in us. Over the years Jeremiah Burroughs’ book has helped countless Christians face their afflictions with the understanding that all that happens in their lives is according to God’s good purpose for them. It doesn’t make the suffering any less painful, but has helped in not letting the afflictions become a cause to stumble in our faith.
    Moreover, learning to be content in the Lord through our difficult trials has been the greatest challenge that I believe we must learn in our Christian lives. Though in this life we will not by any stretch come to a state of full contentment, this “jewel” in the Christian life is indeed “rare” since the struggle against a spirit of discontent in all of us is on-going. We grumble and complain against almost anything that goes against how we think things ought to be, whether it’s circumstances or other people that God, in His providence, brings into our lives. There many circumstances that we do not have control over. They make our lives uncomfortable or uneasy, whether that involves persecution or oppression from unbelievers (which is what the original readers of Burroughs’ book were experiencing) or other trials. Many circumstances that we complain about also involve the areas of work, finances, health, state of affairs in our country or even our churches. Even the outcome of a football game stirs up discontent – “Maybe I should support another more ‘winning’ team.” We complain about other people; we don’t like their personality, or the way they conduct themselves (though they are not living in unrepentant sin); we don’t like the way a person performs their tasks in their labors.
    Within many churches there is much discontent amongst the saints in Christ. This sinful spirit is a pervasive problem. We see it when people find fault with others. We see it when they are discontent that those visiting the church are not actually joining the church. We see it when there isn’t enough work being shared by the other members. Yet we find these facts just about any church we attend. Beloved in the Lord, it is one thing when the ungodly murmur (grumble) and complain. We would expect a discontented spirit possessing an unbeliever. However, when those who profess faith in Christ complain they possess a spirit that is contrary to the Spirit of Christ that dwells in him or her (Philippians 2:14-15). Yet it must be kept in mind that just because a person is saved and has died to sin being delivered from the dominion of sin having been baptized into Christ, he nevertheless still wrestles with the sin that remains present with him that battles against the Spirit of Christ and His righteousness (Romans 6:6; 7:20-21; Galatians 5:17). And oftentimes, the old man (the sin that dwells in our members) wins the battle, whether we are aware of it or not. This leads to the subject of this article concerning murmuring and complaining, which is drawn from a very small but powerful section of Jeremiah Burroughs’ book on contentment.
    He writes, “As contentment argues much grace, and strong grace, and beautiful grace, so murmuring argues much corruption, and strong corruption, and very vile corruption in your heart” (p. 79). The vile corruption of the heart is a discontented heart that is manifested in murmuring and complaining. The power of this statement is seen in the Epistle of Jude.
    In Jude, verse 14 and 15, we read, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” (Jude 1:14-15, NKJV).
    In the verses quoted here we are told of the condition of the ungodly, which is a state of discontent. We are told that the ungodly live their lives in an ungodly way, and in their ungodly conversation they speak against the Lord. It is to these ungodly people the Lord will come with “ten thousands of His saints” to execute His eternal punishment, having convicted them (found them guilty) of their wickedness. Now, when we think about ungodly people we might think that it is easy to identify them by their behavior. They are drunkards, thieves, murderers, adulterers and fornicators. Or we identify the ungodly by the words they speak. They are those who are using foul language, speaking blasphemies against God and even denying His very existence. And in thinking only in this way, you might think to yourself that since you do not act that way or speak with such disrespect toward the Lord, these verses are not talking about you. As a believer in Christ this would be considered irreprehensible conduct and inconsistent with those who have been born again by the Holy Spirit and implanted with the love of God in their hearts. However, we must consider the next verse in Jude that describes these ungodly people that is different than what we might think, and which is oftentimes overlooked or just simply ignored.
    We read in verse 16, “These are grumblers, complainers . . .” In this verse those who are identified as ungodly are “grumblers,” or “murmurers” (King James Version) and complainers. When believers engage in murmuring and complaining, are they not conducting themselves in the same way as the ungodly? According to Scripture, they absolutely are! In murmuring or grumbling we are expressing discontent in our circumstances, or as it has been defined, “grumbling is a species of immoderate complaint about one’s allotted circumstances.” How many of us have grumbled about our circumstances? In that moment, are we not exercising a rebellious spirit against God’s Providence?

    If WE cannot say Amen, then we should be saying OUCH!

    Michael

    Reply

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