Submitting A Complaint
Updated: Feb 9
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,
As I’m journeying and journaling through the Bible I’ve now arrived at the Book of Numbers. At first glance, you'd think Numbers to be a census book. Taking a census is a significant component of the Book of Numbers but it is so much more.
Numbers reveal God’s immense longsuffering and faithfulness toward His people and I feel strongly led to share with you just a portion of what I’ve gleaned so far in an area that God has highlighted to me. A very prevalent but vastly grievous area of concern to God regarding our hearts.
God through Moses has delivered the Israelites out of Egypt through the parting of the Red Sea and they are preparing to journey to the Promised Land.
Israel had seen God’s Hand at work in many prolific ways yet not soon after their deliverance from Egypt, their complaining began. We may think to ourselves after all God brought them through. All the things they had seen and experienced that they have a lot of nerve to complain and, that they were extremely ungrateful.
But if we watch over our lives, especially here lately, with so many things happening in the world, in our world, might find ourselves easily doing the same.
The tendency to complain in this fallen world is so great. Be it political parties, leaders and policies, food and gas prices, shortages, crime, the state of the church, the state of the world, etc. You name it, there are innumerable things, people, and situations to potentially complain about. We see it on all social media platforms, in the news, and in daily conversations.
Even in our personal lives, there are many issues that we are confronted with that could cause us to complain. It’s so easy to do, that we can do it unaware at times.
I know because here lately I’ve been intentionally watching over my words (really my heart) to not murmur or complain. Because it’s so easy right? So much confusion in the world, including inflation, shortages, and rumors of shortages. Wars and rumors of wars. Increase of wickedness. Natural disasters. People falling away from the faith. Church division. Family division, persecution, and alienation like I’ve never seen before but if we look closely at Scripture these things would take place in the last days.
Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” Luke 12:53
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. Matthew 24:6-8
When we hear of these things or when they hit home if not careful it can cause us to murmur and complain.
This is right in line with my current reading from Numbers and it’s been very sobering, to say the least. I’ve been reminded of and even more deeply impressed in my heart regarding the seriousness of complaining.
Let's together look at the scene and backdrop of the Israelites as they prepare for their journey.
The nation of Israel is camped at the foot of Mount Sinai. God through Moses brought them out of Egypt by the miracle of parting the Red Sea and they were preparing for the journey to the Promised Land; Canaan.
To prepare there was a census taken, they were organized by tribes, and the roles of the priests were established. They celebrated the second Passover and the laws were given to ensure lifestyles of purity.
God prepared the Israelites with all they needed to make it to the Promised Land and He even left room for them to trust Him.
God in His great providence even guided and protected them by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
The Israelites were on their way and it didn’t take long for the murmuring and complaining to begin. The Israelites grumbled, whined, and complained at every turn.
Soon they began to complain about their hardship to Moses but at the core of their complaints, was a complaint against God from where all their help, providence, protection, and blessing came.
God heard everything they said and His anger was blazed against them. Just how angry was God? He sent a fire to rage among them and he destroyed some of the people on the outskirts of the camp.
Though the people complained to one another and to Moses their complaint was really against God.
How many times do we complain to our friends and/or family? Even strangers in the grocery store find a bond to communicate about how high the food prices are. I know, because I've done it. It’s so easy to do without even realizing it. It's easy to get lured into but I challenge you today to watch over your heart, and your words. Take notice of complaints. You may, like me find that you do it more than you think.
As seen by the Israelites complaining is a serious offense against God and it hinders us from the fullness of God and where He wants to take us to.
If we really ponder in our hearts and pull back the layers, the underlying causes of complaining, criticizing, and murmuring: are unbelief, discontentment, ungratefulness, entitlement, distrust, pride, and disobedience.
I know this is a hard word, but a hard word softens the heart and compels us to purity. Purity of heart is what God is after. Purity, a heart of gratitude, thankfulness, and obedience were the pathways that could have led the Israelites to the Promised Land that God had for them but they forfeited by complaining against God who had done so much for them. But if we’re honest, we do the same, don’t we?
The Israelites witnessed God do many prolific things and yet soon after their hearts were bent to murmur, rebel, be ungrateful; complaint.
They complained against their leadership, Moses and Aaron. But have we been guilty of doing the same?
They complained about their hardship. Are we guilty of doing the same?
They complained about being stuck in the wilderness. In our “wilderness” our hard places, when things are not moving or going as we thought they would are we guilty of doing the same?
They refused to believe that God would provide as He had promised. Are we guilty of doing the same?
They complained about their problems instead of praying to God about their problems. Have we been guilty of doing the same?
Again, it’s a hard word, but it softens our hearts and compels our hearts to confession, repentance, gratitude; purity.
The consequences of Israel’s complaints were devastating.
When they complained about their hardship, God sent a plague of fire to punish them and many lost their lives. (11:1)
When they complained about the lack of meat, God in His mercy sent quail but many became greedy as they began to eat God sent a plague that killed many. (11:4)
When they complained about their leadership and became greedy for more power and authority, the families and friends of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram were swallowed up by the earth and fire then burned up 250 other rebellious men. (16:3)
They complained about the lack of water and refused to believe God would provide as He had promised. This was another complaint that added to a long list of complaints that angered God and ultimately barred them from entering the Promised Land. (Numbers 20:2-3)
Very tragic to say the least but it serves as a weighty lesson for us all. God loves us for sure and wants the very best for us. His Word and faithfulness have proven true to us over and over again. Yet we wander in the wilderness when we don’t have to. We complain when God's heart is to demonstrate His holiness in response to our trust and faith in Him.
As God had an inheritance for the Israelites, He has an inheritance for us today. Securing our trust in Him and believing Him to be true to His Word not only glorifies Him but establishes us to produce the fruit of the Spirit.
God provided the Israelites with a cloud by day, and fire by night. Today we have the Holy Spirit living in us. We must depend on, lean in, and surrender to Him. Walking, being empowered and led by Him, not our emotions. Not by what we see. Not by a news report or conspiracy theory.
Because of the shed blood of Jesus, we can now go boldly to the throne of our gracious Father to receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Instead of complaining we can choose to cast our cares on God for He cares for us.
Instead of thinking about what we don’t have praise God for the bountiful blessings that we do have and that we were chosen in this place and time.
Thanking and praising God that we are not under the dispensation of the Law but the dispensation of grace! Hallelujah!
Instead of being anxious, whining, and walking in discouragement and distrust, we can make our requests made known to God with thanksgiving and the peace of God will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.
Instead of consuming ourselves with our personal problems, and all that’s going on badly in the world, rather be intentional to keep our minds on things above. The eye has not seen, nor heard what God has in store for those who love Him. That part. Keeping our minds stayed on Jesus and all He accomplished on the Cross of Calvary.
Deeply ponder this for a moment . . . .
He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet he opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before it’s shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. Selah
Our blessed Savior experienced unimaginable sufferings and He opened not His mouth. No complaints and oh, He could have complained to eternity for all He went through and He didn’t. What did Jesus do instead? He prayed.
" He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Matthew 26:9
He surrendered to the will of the Father for the joy set before Him He endured the Cross, despising its shame with pureness of heart.
When there are impurities in our hearts they come out of our mouths.
If our hearts are tainted with unbelief; we will be prone to speak unbelief.
If discontentment and ungratefulness are woven into the crevices of our hearts our words will be mingled with words of ungratefulness and discontentment.
If our hearts are worried and anxious about many things our words will be more bent toward speaking words of doubt, discouragement; complaint.
We are at a place in time where our trust and faith in God are being tested on many sides and this can cause us to go down the slippery and dangerous twin slopes of murmuring and complaining.
Yes, we get Godly counsel. Talk to a trusted friend and/or family member. Pray for one another. Help to carry each other’s burdens. Share our feelings, and concerns and unburden our hearts to others with gratitude and thanksgiving to God and trusting Him for it all. This demonstrates a heart that honors God because it shows we trust Him and are submitted to His will.
But to have an ungrateful heart is to complain and a complaint no matter how insignificant is a complaint against God.
We must hold tightly to our faith with the goal in mind to not waver. To take God at His Word. Rest in His faithfulness and cultivate hearts of rejoicing and thanksgiving.
In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
When our aim is to garner a heart of gratitude and contentment in whatever state we are in it shows a steadfast heart, not perfect but we show that we have an active trust in God and it brings Him much glory.
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. Philippians 4:11
So today, let’s set our hearts to trusting God wholeheartedly without complaint. He's done so much for us. We cannot tell it all. Our minds cannot fathom it all.
Let's take God at His Word and break up the fallow ground in our hearts. Thinking on and thanking God for His longsuffering toward us and the many blessings He has already bestowed upon us and always keeping in the forefront of our hearts and minds His proven faithfulness to us in the past and our inheritance both now and forever.
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For further study and Scripture references: Numbers Chapters 1-20 Matthew 5:8
Psalm 143:10 Romans 6:16 Romans 8:14 Hebrews 4:16 1 Peter 5:7 Philippians 4:6
Colossians 3:2 1 Corinthians 2:9
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