A man who is on the grousing line has no brightness or joy, no time for other people; he is taken up with the diseases of his own mind.
PLEASE take a few minutes to read this message from my heart to yours this holiday season. I am compelled to share this not-very-light-hearted message out of personal conviction but also because I sense that the Holy Spirit is stirring up this same conviction in many of you. My prayer is that it leads to a deepening of true unity and peace within each of our homes, spilling into our churches and workplaces, not just in this holiday season, but also through the New Year and our lifetimes.
God is doing a unifying work in His church and it is happening one heart at a time.
Everywhere I go, I sense a desire on the part of Christians to intentionally establish their hearts. I know that many of you reading this are among those who not only desire for the Lord to dwell richly in your hearts but to wholly reign there as well. You see God’s Word as truth to take scripture seriously and applied personally. The Holy Spirit is yearning for your heart jealously! (James 4:5 – Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?
I thank God for many of you who inspire me to grow by your life and your words. I pray that you will join me in establishing an authentic resolution to stop grousing entirely! Christians are not so set apart from the world when it comes to grumbling and complaining. And we are increasingly becoming more so both in our discontentment and in our lack of patience; a duo that actually works in tandem.
I cannot think of anything that would have a more positive impact in our homes, schools, churches, workplace than if we intentionally worked on our patience and our propensity to grumble. What inspiration could occur in our families- in our churches- in our workplaces if we consistently chose to go against this negative standard in our society (and the inclination of the natural man within us) by taking God’s Word seriously in these areas that He has plenty to say about!
Read James 5:7-9:
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. 8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.9 Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned.Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!
Stated twice here and in many other scriptures, we are to be patient, not only as we wait for the Lord to return but in how we treat others. We are to “count it all joy when we meet trials of various kinds” because the testing of our faith will establish our hearts.
Establish your heart!
Not only are we to set our hearts apart from the world, but we are to purposely rid our hearts of our natural inclinations to focus on ourselves and grumble about others. The state of my heart governs what I focus on and eventually what I say and do. Proverbs 4:20-27 gives us guidance in how:
My son, be attentive to my words;
incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Let them not escape from your sight;
keep them within your heart.
22 For they are life to those who find them,
and healing to all their flesh.
23 Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
24 Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
25 Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.
Do not grumble!
Why is it that so many Christians are chronic grumblers, complaining incessantly about almost everything and everybody? Sadly, it’s our cultural standard that we have conformed to despite all the blessings that God has indeed bestowed upon us as a nation. We somehow feel the need to express feelings of displeasure, dissatisfaction and resentment with our circumstances. We grumble to gain support and compassion for ourselves. In our grumblings we slander others and carelessly cast blame. We complain about our jobs, our family life, our possessions, our political leaders, our bosses, our kids. We mutter discontentment and model this destructive practice to our children (who have learned it well when one considers the qualities of our youth culture)!
Do you notice how we tend to do so in a whispered confidential manner?
Perhaps it’s because deep inside we know it’s wrong! It is tremendously difficult to stop grumbling and to reshape one’s mind to not complain. It is our natural default and the path of least resistance and let’s be honest; it feels good. Grumbling however is a self centered mindset with an additive, and ensnaring quality so beware!
It seems that often the biggest grumblers and complainers are hyper- sensitive when the grumbling is aimed at them. Ouch!
What do you grumble about? Where does your thinking go when you face daily frustrations and trials? When people treat you unjustly and when things don’t go your way do you find ways to justify your grousing and complaining? Guard your hearts by not allowing such thoughts to reside or habits to develop. Purify your hearts by repenting and asking the Holy Spirit to change you.
And what is the impact on those who are recipients of our grumbling and complaining?
Our words have a life of their own. They shape opinions, form perceptions, and are often repeated over and over. I am ashamed to realize the wrong I have offered to the recipients of my grumblings. No wonder scriptures tells us that we are accountable for every idle word we speak. (Matthew 12:36) A dear friend from years ago mentored me effectively when I would grumble and complain. She would simply ask “what do you want me to do with what you just told me?” She made it very difficult for me to complain to her and through her gentle questioning, brought conviction to my own heart.
The truth is that we can’t reshape our minds not to complain.
We can try to control our thoughts and put a muzzle on our mouths but when trials come (and they will daily), what we hold to in our hearts will overflow. The issue is our hearts- what we store there. If we cling to anger and unforgiveness; if we store up resentment, it will overflow from us to others. Only God’s Word can renew our minds and it is our responsibility to give Him room in our hearts to move by giving up what our selfish nature wishes to hold on to.
Prayer: Lord I ask you to free my heart of self-seeking thoughts and ways and fill me instead with the “wisdom that is from above which pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” (James 3:13-17)
Verses to Ponder
Ephesians 4:29 – Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Psalm 106:25 – They murmured in their tents, and did not obey the voice of the Lord
Philippians 2:12-16 – Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
Matthew 7:1-2 – Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
I Thessalonians 5:18 – Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.