Mike Leake – Learning the Language of Lament (Conclusion)

Why does it really matter if I grumble instead of lament? Is there really a big difference between saying, “We’re going to die out here!” And, “Lord, I’m afraid we are going to die out here, deliver us!”

Yes.

And it’s all about the state of the heart. This isn’t simply about making sure we say the right words in the right way. Lament is not a formula. Neither is grumbling really. They are both expressions of the heart. One is a heart that is hurt and wounded and yet trusting in the Lord. The other is a heart that is hurt and wounded and refusing to be humble under His mighty hand. The biggest issue in the heart of the grumbler is a lack of trust in Jesus.

To continue reading Mike Leake’s article, click here.

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Mike Leake – Learning the Language of Lament (Part Five)

I’ve got a challenge for you. Scroll through your preferred social media platform and see how many posts it takes to find someone complaining about a political leader or an action of a political leader. My guess is you won’t get to double digits before you see some sort of complaint recorded.

As freedom loving Americans we value our ability to air our opinions of our leaders. We the people are supposed to hold the weight in this country and we don’t like it when a leader attempts to tell us what to do. They might hold a particular office at present but we know that they aren’t any different or better than us. We’ve been given the freedom to complain and so we are going to use it.

All that is well and good but we end up sounding an awful lot like those in Korah’s rebellion. Granted, grumbling against Moses is a tad bit different than grumbling against a politician. Though we could argue that God places every leader in place it isn’t quite a one to one comparison. Nevertheless, one of the things I found present in almost all instances of grumbling that I did not find present in lament is a kicking at God’s sovereign rule. And particularly a displeasure at the leaders that God has set before them.

To continue reading Mike Leake’s article, click here.

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Nick Batzig – Nothing to Complain About

Of all the sins that are grievous to the Lord (and there are plenty of them in our hearts and lives), I have recently been sensitive to the fact that we are all quick to gloss over two of the most serious–namely, ingratitude and complaining. It was these sins in particular that marked Israel’s sojourning through the wilderness. Moses tells us, in Numbers 11:1, “The people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp.” Unthankfulness for all the blessings–material and spiritual–with which God daily loads us is one of the most egregious of sins. Ingratitude always fosters a complaining spirit of entitlement in the hearts of men and women.

To continue reading Nick Batzig’s article, click here.

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Geoffrey Kirkland – Diagnosing & Mortifying the Sin of Complaining

Philippians 2:14 — “Do all things without grumbling or disputing…”
James 5:9 — “Do not complain, brethren, against one another…”

THE CORRUPTION OF COMPLAINING

Everyone does it. It’s all around us. In fact, it’s so normalized and pervasive that we hardly even recognize when it actually occurs. The sin of complaining is one of those “respectable sins.” That is, it’s one that’s hardly spoken about, seldom preached against, and still less frequent, a sin with which Christians persistently wage violent war. Complaining is ugly. Complaining is one of the most commonest and frequent sins that’s almost as easy to find and common as the air we breathe.

Complaining isn’t, however, the real issue. Complaining is the outward manifestation of other heart-sins taking place in that moment. Let’s diagnose complaining. When we complain, we manifest three heart-sins that are all taking place together.

First, complaining manifests an attitude of “deservedness.” It’s like saying: “I’m not getting what I feel like I deserve!” Or, to state the opposite: “I am getting what I don’t think I deserve.” And in that moment of a complaint, we soar to the realms of deservedness, specifically, that we deserve something good or better than what we’re actually experiencing.

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Jeremiah Johnson – Stop Complaining (Part 1)

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What would you say is the defining characteristic of our society?

Maybe pride, selfishness, lust, vengeance, materialism—all dominant features of twenty-first century life. But here’s one you might not have guessed—discontentment.

So much of modern life is bound up in obtaining what we don’t have, and then upgrading it as soon as we have it. It’s as if people are fundamentally incapable of being satisfied with what they have. They always want more money, more prestigious jobs, better homes, and newer cars. It shows up in relationships too, as people routinely abandon their marriages for younger, more attractive spouses, while others abandon their families and friends to upgrade their social circle.

Moreover, we’re encouraged to be discontent. Virtually every marketing campaign plays on that ingrained sense of dissatisfaction—whatever they’re selling works better, faster, easier, and cheaper than what you have already. The same is true in entertainment. Fictional characters lead luxurious lives the rest of us can only aspire to, while countless TV programs show you how to renovate and restore your car, your house, and even your own body.

Even politics is dominated by discontentment. Every political campaign revolves around promises to fix what’s broken in this country so you can have a better, happier, and easier life.

This pervasive discontentment colors virtually every area of modern life. Man’s rebellious default setting is to grumble, complain, argue, and whine about anything and everything he doesn’t like.

But what about the church? Are God’s people immune from such pervasive dissatisfaction?

Unfortunately, we are not. Christians are just as prone to discontentment as the world, and just as apt to complain about what they don’t like or how their needs aren’t being met.

But as Christians, we know that all those complaints ultimately go back to God. All matters are overseen by our sovereign Lord Himself, so we’re really complaining that He didn’t orchestrate and design things in our churches to our taste and satisfaction.

The same goes for all areas of life—when we’re discontent in anything, we’re really questioning God’s wisdom, will, provision, goodness, and blessing. In short, we’re actually dissatisfied with God.

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Michael Boling – Put a Muzzle on that Grumbling and Complaining

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Do all things without grumbling or questioning, – Philippians 2:14

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. – Ephesians 4:29

Stop complaining and just do what you are told!

Admit it. How many times were you told that as a child or for those who have children, how many times just in the past week have you told your own children that exact thing. Quit grumbling. Quit the backtalk. Do what you are told and all will be well.

As adults, one would think we would have reached a certain level of maturity after the ten thousand times of being scolded by our own parents to not complain. Sadly, complaining and grumbling is part and parcel of everyday life. A sad but true fact.

Over the past week, events at my job have reached a fever pitch with certain decisions being made for which I highly disagreed. Ten dollars to the first person who guesses what my response was to those decisions. We have a winner! Yes I grumbled, complained, murmured, and groaned rather endlessly. Did it change anything? Absolutely not as those decisions still stood and guess what? Life actually moved forward and the earth continued to rotate despite my fervent and repeated protestations.

There is certainly room for disagreement as we are not called to be like carpets, walked all over endlessly. Honest discussion within the framework of civil and useful discourse should be encouraged. With that said, typically our mumbling, groaning, and complaining is a result of being told something we should do or experiencing an event or series of events that grate at our sense of pride as well as our perception of what should take place.

Many times, especially in the work environment, our complaints are rooted in a lack of understanding of the greater picture. We may think we know the best route to take; however, more often than not, decisions are made based on a more corporate mindset from those who are able to better grasp the larger goal of the organization.

In the family setting, our complaints are often rooted in our own wants and desires getting in the way or just that age old lack of proper communication. Again, we think we may know what the other party wants or is saying, but that logjam of grumbling gets in the way of fully understanding the greater picture.

As I was pondering my own recent penchant for digressing into the morass of complaining, I was reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 2:14 and Ephesians 4:29 as well as some Old Testament examples of what took place when the children of Israel began to murmur and complain. Let me cut right to the chase and state that in every instance where people grumbled and complained, nothing good came about as a result. In fact, Number 11:1-3 provides a fine example of what happened to some people in Israel who felt the need to grumble and complain against the Lord:

“And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the Lord, and the fire died down. So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the Lord burned among them.”

Now I am not sure that fire from heaven will immediately come down from heaven and consume you if you let out a complaint against your supervisor at work or if you complain about your wife not folding the laundry. What incessant complaining and grumbling does is provide the means for a root of bitterness to take hold. Hebrews 12:14-15 instructs us to

“Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;”

In the passages we have looked at thus far, we can begin to see a pattern of behavior that must be engaged in order to avoid grumbling, complaining, and murmuring. Let’s take a quick look at some ways in which we can avoid such destructive actions in favor of a more biblical response to the issues that really “irk” us.

1. Pursue Peace: The word pursue is the Greek verb diōkō which means “to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to run after.” Peace is Greek noun eirēnē which means “peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord.” When you put those two thoughts together you have the concept of running after harmony between individuals with that harmony not being some emotive touchy feely type idea but rather a concrete state of existence. This will undoubtedly involve a bit of dying to self, given that personal desires and wants are often the fire that is kindled eventually leading to the forest fire of murmuring, grumbling, and complaining. Pursuing peace by the grace of God and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit is the needed deluge of water on that raging fire of bitterness.

2. Speak Life: The Apostle Paul instructs us in Ephesians 4:29 to avoid corrupting talk, instead ensuring that any words that we speak are those which build up as befitting the occasions with the purpose of giving grace to those within earshot of our words or those who may hear at some point our response. The word corrupt is a rather interesting word in the Greek. It is the adjective sapros which means “rotten or putrefied.” Ponder that for a minute. Those grumbling, complaining, and murmuring words you find yourself spouting are nothing more than rotten and putrefied speech. No wonder Proverbs 14:30 calls this lack of tranquility rottenness to the bones. The old saying goes “If you do not have anything positive to say, do not say anything at all.” There is great wisdom in that statement and it is certainly supported by Scripture.

3. Persistently Read the Bible and Pray: What comes out of the mouth and what circles around in the mind that often ends up spouting from the mouth is first born from the heart. Matthew 15:19 states “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” Notice the mention of evil thoughts, murder, false witness, and slander. Now you may say “I may say that I would like to “kill” him but of course that is just hyperbole.” Let us be mindful of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:22: “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Now we are getting real! We have all spouted off at the mouth and called someone a “fool” or even worse.

When we wash ourselves daily in the Word of God with the Holy Spirit writing God’s Word on the very tablets of our hearts, we are replacing such ungodly desires and behaviors with the holy Word of God. When we consume ourselves with the truth of Scripture, that desire to murmur and grumble will be replaced with the medicine prescribed in God’s Word, namely the Fruit of the Spirit.

Furthermore, it is necessary to spend devoted time in prayer, asking God for help to quench the thirst for murmuring, grumbling, and complaining. Instead of crying out in anger, cry out to God for His divine assistance to replace that spirit of bitterness with a heart of love and compassion.

So the next time your boss, wife, child, or friend does something that really irks you or that you disagree with, remember the example set for us by Jesus – “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)”. Jesus was crucified, beaten mercilessly, and died on our behalf and did not utter one word of complaint. If He was willing to do that for us, why do we more often than not engage in murmuring and complaining about things of such a trivial nature? That is a question we must all ask ourselves as we seek through the work of the Holy Spirit to uproot bitterness and complaining in our lives. Get out your spiritual shovels….it is time to start some digging!

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Jeremiah Johnson – Stop Complaining (Part 2)

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Most people assume they are generally agreeable and easy-going. Few people would proudly say they were hard to get along with or difficult to be around.

But if you added up every argumentative, complaining, and frustrated word you spoke this week, along with all your eye rolls, disappointed sighs, and grumbling grunts, you would likely be shocked by how much of your time is bound up in expressing your discontent and dissatisfaction. In fact, some people talk about little else!

Last time we considered Paul’s exhortation to the Philippian church—and by extension, every believer—to “do all things without grumbling or disputing” (Philippians 2:14). But the apostle didn’t merely issue an abrupt command—in the subsequent verses, he gives us some clear reasons why believers must not follow the discontent, complaining pattern of the world.

For the Sake of Your Testimony

Immediately following his exhortation to “do all things without grumbling or disputing” Paul writes, “so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach” (Philippians 2:15). The first reason believers must stop complaining is for the sake of their own testimonies.

Very few things are as accurate a measure of the true nature of your heart as how you react to trials and disappointment. And if you’ve developed a reputation as a complainer, there’s no amount of tracts you can hand out or fish symbols you can slap on your car to make people think you’re godly. The presence or absence of a complaining spirit in your day-to-day life is likely a stronger testimony to those around you than the actual words you say.

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Clint Archer – What is Grumbling? The Seditious Sin of Grumbling (Part 1)

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Early in 2007 Pastor Will Bowden of Kansas City realized his church had a chronic problem with complaining. (Welcome to the pastorate Will). He felt that the congregation was carping mainly about trivial issues – choice of hymns, informal dress code, and the like. So Bowden challenged his bleating sheep to a pledge: to stop for 21 consecutive days all griping, gossiping, and gainsaying. Those who accepted were issued little purple bracelets so that if they violated the pledge, they’d switch the bracelet to the opposite wrist and reset the count to zero. After months of self-muzzling effort, some folks were victorious and were rewarded with certificates of happiness conferred in church.

Two problems with Bowden’s idea I’d like to voice (irony aside)—are: first, that I didn’t think of it myself. Recognizing the insidious habit is half the battle won. And the second problem with a 21-day challenge is that it’s only 21 days. As insurmountable as three whine-free weeks sound, the challenge falls short of the Apostle Paul’s injunction to stop complaining… forever.

Prison may prove a fertile environment for growing gripes, but for Paul jail fed his praise. So it is without compunction that he curtly instructs the Philippian church to “Do all things without grumbling or disputing” (Phil 2:14).

Paul tended to be able to get away with all-compassing, life-altering sagacity by simply pulling back his overcoat to reveal the gleaming sword hilt of apostolic authority. But since I don’t pack that kinda heat, I need to draw the whole length and breadth of conviction out of the scabbard. So this week let’s examine the edges of sinful complaining, and next week we’ll ponder what makes it so heinous a sin.

1. THE SCOPE OF GRUMBLING

Phil 2:14 – “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.”

The scope of the command is breathtakingly panoramic: all things.

And no, the Greek affords no wiggle room. All things means all things. It is literally just as sinful to kvetch about trivial problems (like the weather, or traffic, or volume of the church music, or your spouse’s snoring, or the paucity of serious presidential candidates) as it is to vent about serious issues like the threat of terrorism, or the diagnosis of a terminal illness.

Does this mean that any and every observation about a negative situation is a sin? No, that’s not what Paul said to the Philippians…

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