Sin of Complaining

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The sin of complaining

Numbers 11:1-3

Niles Grace Brethren Church


0. Grumbling and complaining

1a. We all do it

Mrs. Smith grumbled and complained about everyone and everything

Pastor finally thought he had something she could not complain about

Her crop of potatoes was the best for miles around

Surely she would have nothing to complain abut for once

Mrs. Smith, Everyone is talking about how great a crop of potatoes you have

Yes, she said, But where’s the bad ones for the pigs

2a. Why do we complain when we know complaining changes nothing?

Why is complaining such a battle?

Complaining satisfies our sinful nature

Complaining releases negative emotional energy

Definition Of Complaining.

Complaining is expressing resentment over circumstances that are beyond our control and about which we are doing nothing.

When we complain we express resentment over things beyond our control

We express resentment over things about which we are doing nothing

Let me be up front with you

I really like complaining

I would never even consider trying to eliminate it – except for one thing

God judges our complaining or grumbling

3a. God hates complaining

1b. Does God really make a big deal about our complaining?

Numbers 11:1 {1} - Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.

A group of people are standing on the edge of the camp

They are whining and grumbling about something

Maybe it was the leadership style of Moses and Aaron

Maybe it was the food or weather

Whatever the subject matter – it was the final straw for God

God sent fire among the whole group

Does that give you an idea about how God feels about complaining?

2b. We can’t dismiss this as something just for them back then

1 Corinthians 10:11 {11} - Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

What happened to Israel was to be an example for us

Not just people in Apostle Paul’s day – but to the end of the ages – that’s us

Numbers 11:1 highlights a very important spiritual law

God holds me responsible for the things I have control over

God will not hold me responsible for Hurricane Ike – no control over it

But God holds me responsible for my attitudes

That means I choose my attitudes

1. We choose our attitudes

Numbers 11:1 {NKJV} {1} - Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.

1a. The problem with YOUR attitude is in the mirror

1b. Why did the people choose to complain?

No one forced them to complain

It was not because of the way they were brought up

They chose to complain

2b. Why do we complain?

It would be nice if I could blame my attitude on my Dad

It’s my neighbors, my boss, my circumstances

3b. The Israelites chose to complain

They had much to be thankful for

They were free of the Egyptian bondage

They had come out of Egypt as rich people

They had crossed the Red Sea on dry ground

They had watched the Egyptian army drowned in that same sea

They had been given the pillar of cloud and fire

So what is that noise I hear on the outskirts of the camp

Is it the sound of “Thank You Lord”?

Is it a “Praise God from whom all blessings flow”?

No, it is the sound of bellyaching and complaining

4b. God held them accountable for their complaining

God would not judge them for something they could not help

God would not judge them for something they were not responsible for

They chose their attitude and God judged them for it

2. Attitudes are patterns of thinking

You develop a way of thinking – a way of approaching life

Each of us has a pattern of thinking

You and I watch a young boy with a blue rubber ball

Boy glares at us and demands, - What are you looking at?

It’s my ball.  It’s not your ball.

That is an attitude – a pattern of thinking

It may be influenced by parents, lack of sleep, a cookie, or whatever

But he is choosing that attitude

Pretty soon the boy begins to toss the ball into the air and catch it

Suddenly, he drops the ball

What will happen next?

We wait to see what attitude he will choose in response

He has many options to choose from

He could say, Dumb ball. Who made this cheap, slippery ball anyway.

He could ask, Where’s my parents?  Why aren’t they here to pick up my ball?

He could say, I’m such a loser.  I always drop balls.  What’s wrong with me?

He could say, It’s my fault.  I dropped the ball.  I’ll pick it up and keep going.

These sound sort of familiar, don’t they?

Sometimes they betray a negative pattern of thinking – an attitude – on our part

The truth is – we all drop the ball – frequently

The key to happiness and fulfillment is in the attitude we choose when we drop the ball

But there is more to my definition of “Attitude”

3. Attitudes are PATTERNS of thinking formed over a long period

1a. Israelites didn’t suddenly become complainers in Numbers 11

Back in brickyards of Egypt they were whining and grousing

Sure their lives were hard

But while some chose complaining – others chose thankfulness

Circumstances were the same – but the attitudes were very different

2a. We choose our attitudes

Wrong attitudes are hard to change because they are formed over long time

They become habitual, and habits are hard to break

We get too used to responding in a certain way

Our choices become almost automatic

But our attitudes are options that we can choose to change

Yet you can’t change your attitude until you first admit that you chose it

I respond to criticism by getting angry

I tend to think of that as an automatic response

But I could have chosen instead to value that criticism

God can use it to make me a better husband, father, or pastor

But it starts with my admission that I can change my angry response

Once I admit it is a choice - I have an alternative choice

Next time I am criticized I can choose to accept it and grow by it

4. I repeat - Complaining is a sin

1a. How is complaining a sin?

Sin – literally a missing of the mark

Sin is a failure to meet God’s holy standard for our lives

2a. Who am I hurting if I complain?

1b. You are hurting yourself

Complaining leads to anger, bitterness and depression

These take a heavy toll on our lives

Others start to shun and avoid us because of our negativity

2b. You are hurting God

God is directly affected when he hears our complaining

Complaining questions God’s sovereignty

God you blew it!

You had a chance to meet my wants, but you couldn’t handle it

Nice try God.  Close, but not close enough.

3b. You are hurting others

Nobody likes our “stinking thinking”

Who enjoys a person who throws cold water on everything

Besides, our negative thinking gradually drags others down also

Soon they are as negative as we are

3a. Definition of complaining

Complaining is expressing dissatisfaction with a circumstance that is not wrong and about which I am doing nothing to correct

1b. Complaining is about things that are not wrong

If the thing is wrong and you express dissatisfaction, it is not complaining

Objecting to child endangerment is not complaining – endangerment is wrong

Meatloaf three straight nights is complaining – meatloaf is not a sin

2b. Complaining involves things that I am doing nothing to correct

I’m choosing to whine about the matter

But I’m not doing anything to correct the matter

I whine about endangerment but never notify authorities about it

Then it is complaining – I’m doing nothing about it

3b. Complaining involves expressing dissatisfaction

Some people say they never talk about their dissatisfaction

They never complain out loud

But a piece of duct tape over your mouth does not make you complaint free

Remember that God looks on the heart

1 Samuel 16:7 {7} - … For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

5. God hates our complaining

1a. God is listening

Numbers 11:1 {1} - Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.

God heard every word of their complaint

The pillar of cloud by day and fire by night was right there in plain view

This indicated they were right where God wanted them to be

But still they complained.

Wilderness wandering is a constant barrage of complaints

Exodus 17:3 {3} - And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, “Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

Why can’t we have this?

Why do we have to do that?

Their complaining was a constant barrage in the ears of God

2a. God especially hates our complaining about adversity

God hears our complaints about the weather, traffic, taxes, political ads

But complaining about our adversity grates on the ears of God most

Why do I have to go through that?

Why must I endure this physical problem?

God, I hate all this adversity You are bringing into my life

3a. God has entrusted to each of us a certain measure of adversity

Hebrews 12:5-6 {5} - And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; {6} - For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”

God assigns us that adversity to accomplish his eternal purpose

For some, that adversity is a health problem

For others, the adversity is a family crisis or tragedy

But whatever your adversity --- It is part of God’s eternal plan for you

Complaining about that adversity is questioning the sovereignty of God

Mike, I have given you a bad back and hip so you will look to me

When I complain about my back or hip, I am questioning God

God, I don’t think you know what you are doing!

God I think you really blew it this time

Nice try God !!!

By complaining we forfeit the grace that could have helped us through it

That adversity is the thing God designed to keep our hearts close to him

The bad thing isn’t our adversity --- It’s our response to the adversity

4a. God’s response to the complainers

1b. Israelites longed for things God did not want them to have

They wanted meat instead of manna (Num 11:33)

Aaron and Miriam were jealous of Moses’ leadership (Num 12:9)

Israel desires forbidden sexual relationships with Moabites (Num 25:4)

2b. Israelites resented the things God insisted they do

1c. Consider “The Meanest Mother In The World” by Bobbie Pingaro

I had the meanest mother in the whole world. …  But at least, I wasn't alone in my sufferings. My sister and two brothers had the same mean mother as I did.

My mother insisted upon knowing where we were at all times. You'd think we were on a chain gang. She had to know who our friends were and where we were going. She insisted if we said we'd be gone an hour, that we be gone one hour or less--not one hour and one minute. I am nearly ashamed to admit it, but she actually struck us. Not once, but each time we had a mind of our own and did as we pleased. That poor belt was used  more on our seats than it was to hold up Daddy's pants. Can you imagine someone actually hitting a child just because he disobeyed? Now you can begin to see how mean she really was.

The worst is yet to come. We had to be in bed by nine each night and up at eight the next morning. We couldn't sleep till noon like our friends. So while they slept-my mother actually had the nerve to break the child-labor law. She made us work. We had to wash dishes, make beds, learn to cook and all sorts of cruel things. I believe she laid awake at night thinking up mean things to do to us.

She always insisted upon us telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, even if it killed us- and it nearly did.

2c. Child complains about  oversight as burdensome and restrictive

Mother won’t let me have any fun

Mother makes me keep all these silly rules

I wish Mother let me do all the things the others kids do

3c. Maturity sees this oversight as a sign of her love and care

You are not going out all night with someone we do not know

You will have chores and responsibilities

I’m glad Mother loved me enough to risk being different

4c. How do we see God’s oversight?

Do we complain about the circumstances God places us in?

Are we telling God He does not know what He is doing?

Are we implying that God blew it this time?

If you complain about your circumstances, YES, you are

God hears our complaining, and He hates it

It breaks his heart

Our complaining is a slap in the face of God

4a. God’s judgment of those who complain

Numbers 11:1 {NKJV} {1} - Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.

When the people complained the fire of God started crackling on the outskirts

Perhaps today God does not literally consume us with holy fire

But it may be even more devastating

Today God’s fire consumes all that is fresh, healthy and vibrant in our spirits

Our spirits become hot, dry, barren wildernesses worse than Israel faced

Those who choose complaining face a Christian life that is dry, dead and cheerless

Your pattern of thinking always sees the negative

6. What now?

1a. Are you a complainer?

Complaining is expressing dissatisfaction with a circumstance that is not wrong and about which I am doing nothing to correct

2a. Do you understand why God hates complaining?

Complaining rejects God’s sovereignty in your life

We are telling God He does not know what He is doing?

We are implying that God blew it this time?

3a. Do you find yourself in a spiritually barren and dry wasteland?

Your daily devotional time is becoming a drag or is non-existent

Your relationship with your Savior is seriously flawed

4a. Are you content with this or do you want a change?

The ball is in your court

Will you surrender your complaining spirit to the Lord?

# 451 … I surrender all

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