Many years ago, my wife and I were part of a ministry that was struggling. In our ‘wisdom’ as young believers, we arrogantly criticised and grumbled about the leadership and all that they were doing wrong (in our opinion). One particular friendship was affected by our grumbling in that it was contagiously accepted by this other couple. It even seemed that our friendship flourished when we grumbled about the leadership.
One night, the Holy Spirit came upon us with a heavy and crushing conviction. He broke our hearts over what we had been doing. We had to meet with our friends, repent deeply, ask their forgiveness, and commit that our friendship would not allow this behaviour or be based on it. As it turned out, our friendship grew in godliness! Over the next season, we were both used to be a blessing to serve in that same ministry alongside the leaders. This was God’s original plan.
In today’s Scripture reading, one of the ‘nice’ evils of our day is exposed. For some, we do it well. For others, we do it so well, that if it were an Olympic sport, we would be contenders for the gold medal. However, it’s not an Olympic sport. It’s spiritual and relational poison. When we drink that poison, it destroys us and others, but does it in such a seductive and slow way, that we rarely detect the casualties of our own choices.
Doesn’t it seem most tempting to grumble about authority? Why do you think that is?
The honest truth is, Israel wasn’t grumbling against Moses and Aaron, they were grumbling against God. It’s God’s goodness that was in question, His provision and His leading. It was God’s protection that was considered inadequate to deliver. It was God’s heart – the God who was trying to take them into the promised land flowing with milk and honey - that wasn’t seen as good! How did this affect their relationship with the God they grumbled against? How costly was their grumbling? They suffered. The nation suffered. Their children and grand-children suffered. Quite simply, for those who spread a bad report among the people, it cost them everything. For the rest, it took forty years to overcome the damage done. Wow!
Was the grumbling the root issue? No. It was fear. They were scared. They had been slaves, abused by Pharaoh’s crushing and abusive authority. So, it could be argued that it was fear rooted in a wound. Interestingly, God was trying to heal and deliver them from slavery. He was showing them His generous goodness and His heart as Father. He was trying to set them free from their past and lead them into their destiny. But they allowed the fear to lodge in their hearts to the point that they grumbled against what God was doing, instead of for it, as Caleb and Joshua did.
Grumbling is so ‘normal’ in many cultures. But, it’s a part of the kingdom of darkness! It doesn’t belong in the hearts of those who walk the light of the Lord (1 John 1:5-7). If you have a vulnerability to grumble, why not seek the Lord for His healing? Whether it’s rooted in an old wound from someone in authority, just a bad attitude you grew up with, or maybe even something you learned at church, ask God to forgive you and heal you. It might open doors you didn’t know you had closed.
Prayer: Father in Heaven, I confess that I have wrongly judged and criticised others out of my own wounding and fear. I’ve grumbled, Lord. I ask for Your forgiveness for grumbling against them and for grumbling about You. Please deliver me from this wickedness. Help me see with your eyes, love with Your heart, and allow You to lead me into Your purposes and plans. I submit myself to You. I want Your will to be done and Your kingdom to come in my life, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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