Numbers 11:4-9, 31-35; 12:1-10; & 14:27-38
We’ve all had legitimate reasons to complain about something or other in our lives; however, more and more people are using complaining as a second language. They complain about anything and everything, especially with the onslaught of social media on the Internet. Now, I’m not talking about making a valid complaint to the appropriate person or company, or even having to go to court when it’s necessary. I’m speaking about complaining constantly or chronically about almost everything, or perhaps it’s about one situation all the time or one person and never letting go of it.
The problem is that it’s negative speak and brings more negative into our lives. Negative speak reprograms our brains by constantly shoving more and more negative comments into the front part of our brains, the area that is readily accessible by our conscious minds. This means that any positive comments that were currently in that area are shoved further to the back into a long-term storage, an area that takes some time and thought to access. Then, when you need a quick response to someone, it’s apt to be a negative one. Otherwise, negative speak pushes the positive program tapes into storage, replacing your brain’s quick thought programming with negative speak.
That, in itself, is enough reason not to be a chronic complainer; however, there’s an even more pressing reason to clean up your act! Each time we complain, we are condemning ourselves with our mouths.
I recently began reading the Old Testament each morning, cover to cover. I have been a chronic complainer for several years. I’m easily influenced by the speech of others and picked this up many years ago. The problem, of course, is that it becomes addictive; and I couldn’t break the habit. Half the time didn’t even realize I was doing it.
When I hit the Book of Numbers, I got a rude awakening
& the motivation to stop the complaining!
In Numbers 11:4-9, the children Israel are in the desert and begin complaining about having to eat manna. They begin shouting for meat to eat, wailing that they should have remained in Egypt. This infuriates God. By verses 31-35, He gave them quails to eat, using wind to blow them in from the sea and drop them all around the people — enough to feed the multitudes for a month. But in His anger, God also gave them a very great plague that killed thousands!
In Numbers 12:1-10, Aaron and his sister, Miriam, begin complaining loudly against Moses. Again, God hears them and orders Moses to bring them to him. In His anger, He turns Miriam into a leper for seven days, meaning she had to live outside the camp and could not be part of the Israelites during that time. (Aaron was the high priest, so he had to remain in camp to tend to God and the people spiritually. Yet, he too was punished, because he loved his sister very much.)
In Numbers 13, God has Moses send envoys to check out the land they are to inhabit and report back. Part of their report is how well-armed and fortified the towns were. By Numbers 14, the people again begin complaining and wailing that they were all going to die and should have remained in Egypt. God is so angry that He plans to wipe them all out and make a nation of Moses. Moses intercedes for the people, and God relents, but gives them the following punishment:
They must remain in the desert for 40 years to ensure that all who were currently 20 years of age or older would be dead and not allowed to enter the promised land. Otherwise, if they hadn’t complained, they could have crossed into the promised land right then.
- Of the envoys, only two stood up and said they should trust God against the people already living in the promised land. The other envoys are the ones who got the people riled up and fearful — all of these God struck dead there and then, allowing only the two who trusted God to live.
When we complain, we are doing three things:
- We are not being grateful for what God has provided to us, and
- We are not trusting God to do what is best for us, trying to control the situation ourselves, and most importantly …
- We are rejecting God!
None of these reactions or responses to God will go without punishment. For the chronic complainers, this is going to add up very quickly. Yes, we can admit these sins to God and ask for forgiveness; however, if we continue to go back out and commit the same sins, there will still be forgiveness when we ask but will there not also be a punishment?
It’s funny; but ever since I read these chapters, I have done little complaining. I asked Jesus right there and then to make me aware when I complain, since it had become a habit. He does, and I’m getting much better — and you can, too!