Sunday, August 8, 2010

What is Sin - Part 14 : Complaining

Part 14 - Complaining
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |



Numbers 14:1-3
“So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, 'If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?'"


         Sadly, many Christians are murmurers and complainers. In the home, on the job and in the local church they grumble, murmur and complain. They can see nothing good. To them, everything is bad -- their life is miserable and they want to make it that way for everyone else.

         In today’s text, the Israelites murmured against their gracious and loving God. Needless to say, their murmurings displeased Him.

         We will see in scripture today how throughout the bible, man has complained about God, and His work.  We will see how this is a sin against God, and that when you speak against His work, you are speaking against Him.

         We will first look at “why” murmuring is sin, and then look at scriptural examples of appropriate complaints, as well as sinful murmuring, and then look at how to tell whether we have a legitimate complaint, or we are sinfully whining and complaining.

I.                   WHY IS IT SIN?

a.      God is in control
                                                             i.      I Corinthians 11 In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will...

                                                          ii.      I Chronicles 29:12 (LORD) you are the ruler of all things.

                                                       iii.      God is the creator and sustainer of all life.  He is in complete control of everything, from the rise and fall of nations, to the dew which forms on the blade of grass.

b.     When we complain, we are essentially complaining about God’s management.
                                                             i.      When the Israelites complained in the desert, it was against God saving them from Egypt...

1.      The Exodus is a foreshadowing of Christ saving us (the Lord saving God’s Children), from sin (Egypt).

2.      When they complained, they were actually saying...”It would have been better for us to stay in sin, than to come here and not have all we had there...”

                                                          ii.      They were complaining about the work that God has done.

1.      God was displeased with this, and if it were not for Moses stepping in and mediating between the people and God, they would all have been destroyed.

a.      Another foreshadowing of Christ as our mediator, working for our good and mending our relationship with God.

Let us look at righteous and unrighteous complaint in scripture...


a.      Righteous Complaints

                                                             i.      Acts 6:1-5 The Grecian widows had a just complaint, they were being neglected in the daily ministration.  It was in order for them to complain...but this was not murmuring.

1.      In relation to the local church, if there is an injustice taking place, such as people being mistreated, a complaint is in order.  But if the situation is not corrected as you would have it, do not murmur.  Such murmuring is wrong.

                                                          ii.      1 Samuel 1:12-17 12 As she kept on praying to the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, "How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine."
15 "Not so, my lord," Hannah replied, "I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief."
17 Eli answered, "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him."

1.      Complaining to God for not having children...

                                                       iii.      Revelation 6:9-10 "And when he opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of them that had been slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: and they cried with a great voice, saying, How long, O Master, the holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?"

1.      Complaining to God about persecution...
                                                         iv.      1 Corinthians 5:1 "It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife."

1.      Complaints to the church about its immorality...

                                                            v.      Justified complaints also found in the bible concern false doctrines, divisions in the church, etc...

1.      You notice though

a.      all were addressing unjust or unrighteous situations

b.     all complaints were told to the appropriate persons

c.      all were with the intentions of rectifying the problem

                                                         vi.      Example...If I were to stand up here and preach without using any scriptures to prove what I am saying, then what I am doing is preaching my opinion, and not the Word of God.

1.      You would have reason to complain, and rightly so.

2.      BUT...if you do not complain to the right people, in order to make right a wrong, then you are “murmuring”, not justly complaining.

                                                      vii.      The difference between a justified complaint, and a sinful complaint or murmuring is this...

1.      What are you trying to accomplish with your words?

a.      Are you trying to right a wrong?

b.     or, are you just talking against someone or something to convince others to feel as you do?

c.      Our intension means everything.

                                                                                                                                     i.      The Grecian women complained to right a wrong, speaking to the appropriate sources to fix the neglect.

b.     Sinful Murmuring and Complaining

                                                             i.      However, there are several examples of the sin of murmuring throughout the scriptures...far more than righteous complaining.

1.      In Luke 5:29-32 the scribes and Pharisees murmured against the disciples of Jesus because they ate and drank with publicans and sinners...but they were really striking out at Jesus.

a.      They did not care that the publicans and sinners needed Jesus.  They were only concerned with their personal agenda.

2.      In John 6:41 the Jews murmured against Jesus because He said He was the bread of life. 

a.      Instead of investigating His claim in an effort to know the truth, they murmured.

                                                          ii.      Basically, the pattern of murmuring we see in the New Testament boils down to this...when Jesus did not behave according to the way they thought He should behave, they murmured.

1.      This is essentially a form of pride and arrogance, as well as self-righteous and sinful behavior.


a.      There is not a single one of us who appreciates murmurers. When another person engages in this sin, we see its ugly quality. Trust me, it does not look any better in us.

b.     Measure the situation against the Word of God

                                                             i.      What do the scriptures say we should do if we are in bad situations?

1.      "Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world" - Philippians 2:14-15

2.      "Be hospitable to one another without grumbling" - 1 Peter 4:9

3.      It causes one to perish - 1 Corinthians 10:10

c.      Discontent causes murmuring.

                                                             i.      Christians are taught to be content with necessities (1 Timothy 6:7-8); what they have (Hebrews 13:5); their lot (Philippians 4:11); and God's way (Luke 5:5).

                                                          ii.      Selfishness is the second cause of murmuring (Philippians 2:4; Romans 15:2). Selfish people want their way and do not like it one bit if they do not get it, therefore, they murmur.

                                                       iii.      Being discontent and selfish, one murmurs and whines and thus sins bringing condemnation to himself.

1.      Another product of his actions, though, is division among God's people for that is what the murmurer is trying to do -- get people to become sympathetic to his point of view and antagonistic toward the other point of view. The Proverbs tells us that one of the seven things God hates is "one who sows discord among brethren" (Proverbs 6:19).

d.     Decide which path you should take

                                                             i.      Sadly, murmuring is one of the most prevalent sins among some brethren. Those who would never think of committing adultery or murder are guilty of this sin. Some who have the highest morals, adhere most closely to doctrine and are most liberal in their giving negate all the good things they do by whining.

                                                          ii.      Let us not murmur. Rather, let us be content in life. Let us be happy and "rejoice always in the Lord" (Philippians 4:4). Let us be thankful for our blessings and be characterized by a spirit of gratitude (1 Timothy 2:1).

                                                       iii.      Let us never be selfish. Let us always regard others better than self and look out for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4). Let us follow the things which make for peace and let all things be done unto edifying (Romans 14:19; 1 Corinthians 14:26).

                                                         iv.      "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:31-32).


Do you have a complaint?

a.      Is it unwarranted or righteous?

What will the result of complaining be?