This morning in my devotional time, I read Exodus 13-18 – the famous story of the exodus of the people of God from Egypt and its immediate aftermath. It is an exciting story filled with miracles and the power of God – the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea that allowed God’s people to cross on dry land. In fact, the Bible says that this awesome demonstration of God’s power made quite an impression on the people…
“When Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and believed in Him and in His servant Moses.” (Exodus 14:31, HCSB)
However, a mere three days later look at what happened…
“Then Moses led Israel on from the Red Sea, and they went out to the Wilderness of Shur. They journeyed for three days in the wilderness without finding water. They came to Marah, but they could not drink the water at Marah because it was bitter—that is why it was named Marah. The people grumbled to Moses, “What are we going to drink?”” (Exodus 15:22–24, HCSB)
Almost immediately the people of God fell into grumbling and complaining. Think about it. They have just been miraculously delivered from years of slavery in Egypt. They have seen the power of God very real and tangible ways. Yet, they begin to grumble and complain at the first sign of adversity. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get better; it develops into a pattern of life for the Israelites…
“The entire Israelite community departed from Elim and came to the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had left the land of Egypt. The entire Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by pots of meat and ate all the bread we wanted. Instead, you brought us into this wilderness to make this whole assembly die of hunger!”” (Exodus 16:1–3, HCSB)
Unfortunately, this is just the beginning of episode after episode of grumbling by the people of God. The more things change the more things stay the same. I believe that one of the greatest barriers that many Christians have in their walk with God today is the barrier of constant grumbling. Some churches can’t move forward because of constant grumbling among the people. Some pastors cannot lead their churches because they themselves constantly grumble and complain. The truth is that it is easy for Christians to fall into the trap of grumbling and complaining. It can become such a way of life that we really don’t think about it. Monday mornings are prime time for many of us to be grumblers!
Why is grumbling among the people of God a serious matter? Please allow me to list several reasons…
- Grumbling really means that we are questioning God’s provision and goodness toward us.
- Grumbling makes us unthankful and ungrateful people.
- When we are grumbling, we aren’t praying!
- Grumbling takes our focus off of the Lord and onto ourselves.
- Grumbling leads us to unfairly question and blame the leaders that God has placed in our lives.
- Grumbling leads us to focus on the past rather than what God has for us in the future.
If you read through the book of Exodus, you will see these issues play out among the people of God. While this list is far from comprehensive, it’s easy to see that grumbling is serious business that can have a devastating effect on our spiritual lives. Don’t be a grumbler. Exchange grumbling with praise and prayer. Build people up and minister grace rather than tearing down. You’ll be glad that you did!