Overcoming Grumbling (Part 1)

Biblically, we are commanded to not be complainers (cf. Phil. 2:14) and yet this is a struggle for many of us. In our prior lesson, we considered five common reasons why people grumble. Now let us consider some practical solutions.

1. Overcome the temptation to grumble by being realistic.
Did you notice that as soon as the Israelites faced difficulty they started to idealize the past? "In Egypt we just sat around pots of food and had plenty!" The people looked back on the past as if it were the "glory days" of Israel. But, in truth, things were not good for Israel. They were slaves to the Egyptians! They were not being realistic. Additionally, they were hungry but not starving (there is a big difference!). They were exaggerating the good ol' days as well as the adversity of the present. We have a tendency to do likewise today. Do your best to get a proper perspective on the situation and be realistic, no matter what has happened. Remember that God is in control, death is inevitable, and there will be a Day of Judgment. Remember that what really matters is fearing God and keeping His commandments (cf. Eccl. 12:13,14).

2. Overcome the temptation to grumble by realizing that all complaining is ultimately against God.
If we hate our fellow man, we also hate God (cf. I John 4:20). Likewise it could be suggested that if we grumble against our fellow man, we are implicitly grumbling against our Creator. Few are so bold as to complain directly to the Almighty, but indirect complaining is still wrong. Perhaps we are unhappy about our circumstances and think that God should be treating us better. Perhaps we are unhappy with our status in life and think that God hasn't provided well enough (cf. Phil. 4:10-13). Perhaps we are unhappy with certain people in our life and think that God should have made them differently. Grumbling about matters such as these is indirect complaining against God.

How dare we complain against the One who gave us life! Furthermore, it would be a sign of ingratitude to grumble against the One who saved us by His grace. Rather than complaining in the hard times (and let's not pretend that hard times don't exist) we should be turning to the Lord for the strength to face what He has seen fit to allow into our lives. We would be better served to learn the lesson rather than spurn the teacher.

3. Overcome the temptation to grumble by carefully weighing your words.
Many of us need to slow down and really think about the words we are about to utter. Are the words we are about to speak true? Are they helpful? Are they necessary? It is possible to be a grumbler without even realizing it. Sometimes we get caught in a rut of negative thinking and complaining and are oblivious to it, especially if we surround ourselves with negative people and influences. Our speech should be characterized by gratitude, faith, and joy, not complaints, doubt, and bitterness. We would all be wise to speak less and listen more (cf. Eccl. 5:2).

4. Overcome the temptation to grumble by filling your mind with that which is good and positive.
Investing many hours each week of your time and thoughts into Bible reading, prayer, and worship is a good start! What I mean here is that you and I need to fill our minds with that which is pure, good, and holy (cf. Phil. 4:8) rather than dwelling on how difficult life is and what a burden we are bearing. Much of our attitude is dependent upon what we feed our mind. We can dwell on the bad or look for the good! And there is always good to look for and be thankful for.

We will conclude this study in our next lesson.