Earlier the week I wrote a blog on Grumbling, Complaining and Discontentment and realized that I wanted to go a bit deeper into what God has been showing me. The post explained how God has been exposing the sin of grumbling in my heart. It hasn’t been fun. But then is it ever fun when God begins (or continues) to show you those places in your heart you’d rather not have to admit you have.
I realize grumbling and complaining is not new. It’s part of the human sin nature. We all struggle with it at times but what I am beginning to see is just how easily we are willing to give in and allow ourselves to move from grumbling and complaining to anger.
James chapter 4 verses 1 and 2 say “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.”
We grumbled against the way we think things should be, we grumble against God’s timing. His plans. We feel God (and people) have not met our expectations. They haven’t done what we thought they should do. If we do not put a stop immediately to this discontentment, this grumbling of the heart it will, in all likelihood, turn to anger.
When we do not deal with the sin of grumbling within us we then are allowing the battle to grow into anger. That anger becomes evident in our passive aggressive responses to others when that particular area of discontent is brought up. Our voice rises, we can feel the strong emotions stirring up within us. At times we might even try to deny the anger by saying we are just being passionate. But passion will move us to action, grumbling moves us to anger.
You see, we grumble when we don’t like the way things are. We grumble because we’ve made it all about us. We see everything through the lens of our own kingdom. A kingdom that revolves around self. We grumble because God isn’t doing what we think He should be doing or in the way we think He should. We grumble because we live in a kingdom where we rule. When things do not go according to how we think they should we begin to complain and grumble which will eventually turn to an anger within that rages against God and others.
So what do we do now that we are angry? We move out of the kingdom of me and move into the kingdom of God. We change kingdoms. First we call it what it is, sin. We confess the sin of pride, selfishness and possibly a lack of trust in God. Grumbling and anger are sins to be confessed also, but we would be wise to look at and confess the sins that led us there.
Once we confess we must then purposefully choose to live in a kingdom where God rules. A kingdom where we daily choose to accept God’s timing and His ways. We must choose to trust in His love and grace. Choose to trust in the goodness of His gifts and purposes. Trust in where He has you right now is the perfect place to grow you and to use you in the life of another. Trust in His plans and timing when it comes to working in the church, it’s leaders and the ministry He has planned. Ultimately we need to just trust in a sovereign God who has a perfect plan to further His Kingdom.
We also need to be praying. If we see things we don’t understand pray, don’t grumble about them. I think back to the Israelites, maybe if they would have prayed to God to provide something other than manna instead of grumbling about it He wouldn’t have been displeased with them.(1 Cor 10:10) Maybe if we prayed to God instead of grumbling about it we will not become angry.
Maybe if we live in humble submission with an attitude of prayer before it would be much easier to stay in the Kingdom of God instead of desiring to overthrow the King and rule it ourselves. We must resist the temptation of setting self up as king or queen of the kingdom. Every human soul battles the desires of the flesh which wants to rule, to have things our own way. James reminds us to submit to God and resist the devil and he will flee. So come, let us draw nearer to God…
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:7-10