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Seeds of the Kingdom

Is Grumbling a Sin?

by Margaret Silvester

We should not test the Lord as some of them did and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble as some of them did, and were killed by the destroying angel.
1 Corinthians 10:9-10, NIV

Have you ever thought that grumbling could be a sin? To answer the question we need to define sin. It is not simply the obvious sin that committed Christians would recognise and seek to avoid; rather it is a heart attitude which leads to doing what is wrong and not doing what is right according to God’s word and nature.

So what is grumbling? Grumbling and complaining seem to be similes inferring that a person is discontented with their lot in life. I’d never thought of myself as being a grumbler, but on reading the story of the children of Israel, journeying from Egypt to the Promised Land, I realised that grumblers don’t always recognise that they are grumbling. The Israelites grumbled after they’d been freed from slavery, having forgotten their miraculous deliverance (Exodus 14:11-12). They grumbled about the lack of water (Exodus 15:22-25) and the lack of food (Exodus 16:1-3). They grumbled against their leaders (Exodus 17:3-4) and they grumbled against God (Exodus 16:18). Sadly, the Israelites who grumbled against the Lord were not allowed to enter the Promised Land.

Grumbling and complaining are the opposite to gratitude, which is God’s will for all believers, whatever our circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Gratitude leads to deep contentment and peace, bringing the assurance that God is with us, working for the good of those who love Him. Grumbling can turn you into a negative person who looks inward instead of being focused on the goodness of God.

God hates grumbling, as He hates all sin. It can have far reaching effects. As a habit, it affects our attitude to life, and our attitude to Jesus, because it is usually linked to criticism, which can give the devil a foothold. Footholds develop into strongholds if they are not recognised and dealt with. Grumbling infects the attitudes of others – you don’t usually grumble to yourself. It can be a means of spreading discontent, especially when it is against God-appointed leaders. The longer you grumble about a situation, person, circumstances, co-workers, the church or your family, the more justified you can feel in doing so.

The implication is that we blame or judge others instead of seeing what is in our own hearts. Grumbling implies we don’t trust God. But He expects us to trust Him in every situation, with the assurance that He is a loving Father, unchangeable and utterly trustworthy. Grumbling, like all sin, is against God. There can be no excuse for blaming Him for the hard or negative things in our lives.

Sadly, grumbling can keep you from the purposes of God for your life. It makes you deaf to His voice and fixes your eyes on the difficult situations you face instead of upon Jesus. The longer you remain in that negative place, like the Israelites, you remain in your wilderness instead of enjoying the abundant grace and fullness of eternal life here and now.

Prayer: Father, please forgive me for the times when I have not honoured you in my thoughts and words. I pray that You will give me a grateful heart and a deeper knowledge of Your nature and character, so that I will be filled with thankfulness and joy because my hope and trust are rooted in Your eternal love. In the name of Jesus I ask You to set a guard over my mouth and to keep watch over the door of my lips. O Lord, may my heart not be drawn towards anything that grieves or dishonours You. Amen.

Margaret Silvester had a career as a teacher prior to being called into full time Christian Ministry with her husband, David, in 1986. They were involved in establishing a Healing Ministry in the local church and Margaret has a passion to see lost and wounded people found and restored. She and her husband joined the Ellel Ministries teaching and ministry team in 2000 after a clear call from God. Margaret`s book "Stepping Stones to the Father Heart of God" has recently been published.

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