I saw a sign once that said “Complaint Department…Take a Number.” And the number was attached to the pin in a grenade. I thought it was brilliant. I wanted to take the number. Because truthfully, there was probably something I could have been complaining about. Plus I wanted to see what would happen.
We’ve gotten really good at complaining, haven’t we? Think about it. You’ve probably complained about something today. It’s too hot outside. The pastor’s sermon went way too long. Someone didn’t clean up their mess. Your lunch was a little too salty. Your kids used up the hot water in the shower. Somebody left the door open or the lights on.
See what I mean? It’s easy to do, isn’t it? Everybody complains. And you might be thinking it’s no big deal. It’s just what we do. Our complaining temporarily satisfies something in us by providing relief from our current uncomfortable or frustrating situation.
But is it a big deal?
If you spend much time in the Old Testament, you’ll see that the Israelites complained…A LOT! One instance comes from Numbers 11:1, “Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord…”I don’t know if they thought God couldn’t hear them or what. But they complained…and God heard. And do you know what happened next? “…and when He heard them His anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp” (Numbers 11:1b). Yikes! Yeah, God got pretty ticked off.
Over and over again, even after the Israelites were delivered, blessed, instructed, reminded, or provided for, they complained. I don’t know about you, but when other people complain all the time, it wears me out. Just imagine what God thinks. He gives, and we grumble. He answers prayer, and we whine. He protects, and we protest.
Here’s the thing: Complaining isn’t just a reaction. It’s a choice. And it’s a choice we make every day. When things don’t go our way, when we don’t get what we want, when we’re the slightest bit challenged or put out, it’s game on. We choose to voice our complaints to anyone who will listen. (Except the Complaint Department because those grenades are kinda scary.)
We clearly see from the Scriptures that the Israelites’ complaining brought judgment on them. It didn’t get them any sympathy. It didn’t earn “cool” points with other nations. It didn’t boost their ego, or even bring the relief they sought. No, their constant whining got them God’s wrath. Not a very pleasant thought, is it?
Maybe our complaining is a bigger deal than we thought…
So…let me ask you…what is your complaining getting you?