Have you been to a braaivleis (South African BBQ) recently? Did you come home depressed because of the compulsive grumblers? I did. Too much corruption in the government! Too much unemployment! Too much crime! The petrol price. The schools. The youth. The weather! You name the subject, it gets grumbled about. Perhaps even more seriously, we grumble privately to ourselves: Life is so unfair. My salary is too low. If only God would… Grumble, grumble, grumble. Grumbling should be declared our national hobby! What astounds me is that Christians are often the biggest grumblers.
It may astound you too to know that in the Old Testament after God had supernaturally, miraculously and powerfully rescued the Israelites from Egypt and killed their enemies (read Exodus 15!) they grumbled about how unfair life was at the first opportunity. The Bible reveals some deep insights into the truth about grumbling:
1. Grumbling is always against God
Moses reminds the discontented crowd in Ex 16:8 that they are not grumbling against him, but against God. Interesting point. The God the Bible presents us with is the Sovereign God who controls and purposes all things, even calamity (c. Ex 4:11, Ps 115:3, Eph 1:11). Therefore when you grumble about the government you are really grumbling against God who ordained and appointed that government. When you grumble about South Africa want to emigrate, you are grumbling against God who ordained that you were born in South Africa. King David sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite with adultery and murder. Yet, David could say in Psalm 51 that he sinned against God and God alone. Why? Sin is ultimately always against God! And therefore ultimately only God can forgive sin. The same with grumbling.
At the Lausanne Congress the sobering point was made that there are no countries “closed” to Christianity, only “countries where Christians are not currently willing to pay the price to take the gospel there.” I may add “or to stay there”.
2. Grumbling is evidence that we make much of ourselves and not of God
The ultimate purpose of God rescuing the Israelites and killing the Egyptian army was not to that the Israelites could make much of themselves, but that God would be made much of. God acted to “gain glory” for himself (Ex 14:4, 17, 18). God was and is at work in the world and in our lives, not so that we may think we are something, but that we and the world may see that God is worthy of all glory. When we grumble about circumstances we show that we are more concerned about our happiness and comfort, than showing our confidence in the sovereign God to an unbelieving world. When we grumble we show that we are concerned for our own glory and not God’s.
3. Grumbling shows how spiritually immature we are
“Why do you keep on testing me?”, God asks the Israelites (Ex 17:2, 7). Did I not control nature for your rescue? Did I not open the Red Sea? Did I not destroy your enemies? If I have done all this for you, do you not think that I can and will keep on providing for you? Grumbling shows that we do not trust God in our present situation and that we are failing the maturity test. God ordains tough times for us so that we will keep trusting in him for our joy and his fame; instead we often distrust God by grumbling and rob ourselves of joy and bring dishonour on God’s name.
Romans 5:10 speaks to this: For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
If God did so much for us when we were his enemies, how much more will he keep doing for us now that we belong to Jesus? Stop grumbling and start trusting.