An unthankful person is like a container with a hole in it and all the blessings that are in it just leak out. The grateful person has unlimited capacity to truly enjoy God’s blessings, while the ungrateful person can’t enjoy the blessings he does have.
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, The Attitude to Gratitude
Do you leak?
A little grumbling here and there might not seem so bad, but it says a lot- about us and about what we believe about God.
Grumbling is that bad.
Pastor Ritch Boerckel offers three reasons why the grumbling of God’s people is that bad.
Reason #1: Our grumbling proclaims that our God is not good.
We might call it venting, or keeping it real, but take a minute and ask yourself: About what or about whom do I grumble?
I’ll start with me. Sadly, the question is easy: I grumble when my time feels “wasted” and if others’ poor choices caused the “waste,” I might even complain about them.
There- I said it.
But how, you wonder, can I draw such a straight line from my grumbling against the people and circumstances down here straight up to God?
Well, when the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the desert, God heard it. Then he told Moses to tell them, Your grumbling is not against us but against the LORD (Exodus 16:8, Numbers 14:26-27). Our Father in heaven heard their grumbling, and hears ours.
When we whine like deprived children, we don’t adorn. We don’t make our loving Lord look good. We slander his loving care to watching eyes and listening ears.
Grumbling, John Piper explains, only adds to the darkness because it obscures the light of God’s gracious, all-controlling providence.
But there’s more.
Reason #2: Our grumbling demands that God submit to our wishes.
We don’t put it like that, but at the end of the day, isn’t that what our complaints say? That we wish God would do it our way, would submit to our wishes. When we grumble, we’re rebel children, pots second-guessing the potter.
For has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? (Romans 11:34-35). A complaining spirit, therefore, reveals a problem in our relationship with God.
But there is a difference between grumbling and groaning. Groaning, for the record, can actually be a sign of our faith and hope in God’s promises (See Romans 8:22-24).
Groaning and disappointment, criticism and disagreement need not be the same as grumbling and complaining.
[T]he Bible is full of examples of godly people who say, “I’m upset. I wish this were different. Lord, would you do something? I don’t like this.” […] Grumbling, however, is not a humble cry for help, but saying to God, “I know how to run the universe a bit better than you do.” Instead of saying, “This really hurts, but I’m ready to receive whatever I must receive from God’s hand,” grumbling says, “This stinks, and I’m ready to rebel against God’s heart.” That’s the difference…
We’re talking about rebellion against God. Not that the situation is hard, but that God is hard.
Our situation may be hard. But our God is not hard.
He has promised his children good.
Reason #3: Our grumbling disbelieves God’s precious promises.
God has promised to provide all our needs according to his riches in glory (Philippians 4:19) and that he will withhold no good thing from him whose walk is upright (Psalm 84:11) and that all things work for good to those who love him and called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Not to mention that his mercies are there for the picking, new every morning.
But grumbling says we don’t believe those. Or, at least, for the moment, we’re choosing to ignore them. Grumbling says we don’t trust God.
More from DeYoung,
Though you might direct it toward your spouse, your kids, your parents, or someone in authority, you’re saying to God, “You’re not taking care of me…” Grumbling dishonors God.
The problem with complainers is that they don’t really trust that God is big enough to help and good enough to care. That’s what you think when you complain. “This God?! I may say that I believe him, sing songs about him, and read a Bible about him, but I don’t really believe that he’s big enough to do anything about it or good enough to care about me.
Who knew a little complaining about the rain and work and delays and aches and pains could betray so much?
That grumbling could be such a hard habit to break?
Fill the house with gratitude.
Habit is overcome by habit. It’s called replacement. Breaking bad habits means we fill the void with something good.
Just stopping up the leak isn’t enough. In other words, Quit yer grumbling, is not the goal. That’s just the empty house. And Jesus warned that if the house stays empty, the final plight might be worse than the first (Matthew 12:43-45). We need to fill the house.
We need to do something hard: replace grumbling with thanks and turn that frown upside-down and, by God’s grace, choose gratitude.
So stop up the leaks. Don’t let the blessings drip through. Fill your house with gratitude.
Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence.