What makes complaining a sin? Join AMBrewster as he searches the Scriptures to help Christian parents understand why God is not pleased by the whining in their homes.
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Welcome back to “The Hidden Sin in Our Homes.” This is part 2, so if you haven’t heard part 1, I recommend you stop this episode and listen to that one first.
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Alright, let’s talk about why complaining is such a problem.
Last time we solidified the fact that complaining and murmuring and griping and whining are a sin, but today we want to understand why.
One of the passages we read was Philippians 2:12-16. It says, “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.”
We’ll talk about this passage more next time, but for now we can see some of the root that produces the fruit of complaining.
Paul is calling us to obey as we work out our salvation in the fear of the Lord and through the power of the Lord. He calls such living blameless and innocent and pure because it holds fast to the Scriptures. It’s a lifestyle of which Paul could be proud.
And he contrasts such living with “grumbling and questioning” that arises from people who are part of the crooked and twisted generation.
1. Consistent complaining is not the fruit of someone who has a relationship with God.
Now, that’s not to say that all complaining children are unsaved children. But, as with any repetitive and unrepentant sin, consistency in complaining is an indicator of a potential lack of spiritual life. In Revelation 21:8, John writes, “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Does that mean that every single person who has ever lied is going to hell?
What’s being communicated in the Greek and through the general teaching of the Bible is that people who continue speaking falsehood with no repentance has proven that they do not have spiritual life. Why is that? Because the very first step into life eternal is an acknowledgment of one’s sin and the need to turn from it. That is repentance.
Jesus explains it this way. In Matthew 5 He says that we must know and understand that we are spiritually destitute. That realization should break our hearts — that we would rebel against the all-loving Creator of our souls. That reality should cause true humility in our hearts that recognizes that we cannot save ourselves and that we need God. It is at that point that an unbeliever becomes a believer and the Holy Spirit indwells him — making it possible for him to hunger and thirst after righteousness, lives mercifully, pure, peaceful, and joyous lives.
And when the believer sins, the Holy Spirit and the body of Christ work to convict the Christian of his sin, and — with same humility and repentance of his new birth — he eventually turns from his sin.
This is why in Matthew 18, Jesus says that if after frequent interventions and confrontations, if a professing believer refuses to repent of his sin, “if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” In the modern vernacular, Jesus is saying, if the guy is acting like an unsaved person, treat him like an unsaved person.
So, back to the point. I’m not saying that a child who is born again will never complain. I’m saying that a consistently whiny and grumbling individual is acting like an unsaved person. And — if after numerous confrontations — refuses to humble himself to God’s Word, is likely not a born-again believer. The best thing you can do for them at that point is go back to evangelism instead of discipleship.
Now we have to ask the question, why is complaining a natural fruit of an unregenerate life?
Jude answers the question for us. Jude’s one chapter letter deals a lot with people who say they’re Christians, but who aren’t. Jude calls them “false teachers.”
Let me read how Jude describes them: “these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and . . . blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion. These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever . . . . These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.”
The connection between grumbling and discontentment is intrinsic. The definition of the Greek word translated “grumblers” is “a murmurer, one who discontentedly complains against God.” And the definition of the word translated “malcontents” is “complaining of one's lot, querulous, discontented.”
If we go back to Merriam-Webster’s definition, we find the same thing: to complain is “to express grief, pain, or discontent.”
1. Consistent complaining is not the fruit of someone who has a relationship with God.
2. Consistent complaining is the fruit that grows from the root of discontentment.
Whining is discontentment. Merriam-Webster defines discontent as “lack of satisfaction with one's possessions, status, or situation.”
Now, why is this such a problem? Why is it wrong to be discontent?
If you can grab a Bible and follow along, I invite you to turn to Psalm 106. If you’re listening to this in the shower or on the road or while doing chores or working out, I encourage you to check out the passage later, and download our free episode notes — they will cite all of the references at which we looked today. The link is in the description of this episode.
Psalm 106 is a long passage, so let’s jump right in: “Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! 2 Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord, or declare all his praise? 3 Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!”
We could take a lot of time to unpack those three verses. But — suffice it to say — everything that God does is good. Even the hardships He brings into our lives are designed to produce maturity and steadfastness and the image of Christ in us.
“4 Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people; help me when you save them, 5 that I may look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation, that I may glory with your inheritance.”
The author recognizes that there is nothing better than being one of God’s children. Now, when this was written, the church did not yet exist. God’s people were the children of Israel. So, he uses them as the archetype for the remainder of the passage. Don’t get lost with that. Don’t get confused because the author is describing the historical acts of the Jews. God never changes. His relationship with us is the same in many ways.
Then the author begins to acknowledge the sins of God’s people.
“6 Both we and our fathers have sinned; we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness. 7 Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. 8 Yet he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make known his mighty power. 9 He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry, and he led them through the deep as through a desert. 10 So he saved them from the hand of the foe and redeemed them from the power of the enemy. 11 And the waters covered their adversaries; not one of them was left. 12 Then they believed his words; they sang his praise.”
These verses set a pattern that has been replayed and replayed throughout all history. God speaks, mankind hears but chooses not to believe. Mankind sins because of his unbelief, but God lovingly reaches out to him. Mankind responds, but later returns to his own vomit.
“13 But they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel. 14 But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness, and put God to the test in the desert; 15 he gave them what they asked, but sent a wasting disease among them. 16 When men in the camp were jealous of Moses and Aaron, the holy one of the Lord, 17 the earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram. 18 Fire also broke out in their company; the flame burned up the wicked. 19 They made a calf in Horeb and worshiped a metal image. 20 They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass. 21 They forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt, 22 wondrous works in the land of Ham, and awesome deeds by the Red Sea. 23 Therefore he said he would destroy them— had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him, to turn away his wrath from destroying them. 24 Then they despised the pleasant land, having no faith in his promise. 25 They murmured in their tents, and did not obey the voice of the Lord. 26 Therefore he raised his hand and swore to them that he would make them fall in the wilderness, 27 and would make their offspring fall among the nations, scattering them among the lands. 28 Then they yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor, and ate sacrifices offered to the dead; 29 they provoked the Lord to anger with their deeds, and a plague broke out among them. 30 Then Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was stayed. 31 And that was counted to him as righteousness from generation to generation forever. 32 They angered him at the waters of Meribah, and it went ill with Moses on their account, 33 for they made his spirit bitter, and he spoke rashly with his lips. 34 They did not destroy the peoples, as the Lord commanded them, 35 but they mixed with the nations and learned to do as they did. 36 They served their idols, which became a snare to them. 37 They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; 38 they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood. 39 Thus they became unclean by their acts, and played the whore in their deeds. 40 Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people, and he abhorred his heritage; 41 he gave them into the hand of the nations, so that those who hated them ruled over them. 42 Their enemies oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their power. 43 Many times he delivered them, but they were rebellious in their purposes and were brought low through their iniquity.”
As depressing as all of that is, I read it because it unveils the heart of people who are discontent. God describes them as having “wanton cravings,” being jealous, forgetting God, despising God’s gifts, having no faith in His promises, disobedient, and idolatrous.
That is fruit of discontentment. If I don’t like the way things are and if my opinions and feelings and desires are my highest authority, then I have taken God’s job; I’ve set myself up as the all-powerful authority in my life. If I don’t like it, I have the right to want to change it.
The Israelites forgot the goodness of God, so they doubted His love.
Your children forget God’s goodness and doubt His love, and they do the same to you.
The people of God murmured in their tents and didn’t obey the Lord.
Your kids don’t like your rules, so they make their own.
The Jews didn’t want the Promised Land, so they refused to go in.
Your children don’t want what you believe it best, so they whine and complain and fight for their own way.
The people of Israel didn’t like their God, so they made a golden calf.
Your children don’t like to worship their Creator, so they worship themselves.
1. Consistent complaining is not the fruit of someone who has a relationship with God.
2. Complaining is the fruit that grows from the root of discontentment.
3. Complaining grows from discontentment which grows from a lack of trust.
The Jews didn’t trust that when God lead them from Egypt, it was a good thing. He was going to care for them and make them into a nation and give them the Promised Land, but they doubted Him. They accused Him of taking them out there to die. They didn’t trust that he would provide food or water. When He didn’t do things on their time table, He was obviously failing. He clearly didn’t know what He was talking about when He told them to go in and take the land.
Of course, even though He proved Himself faithful and forgiving time and time and time and time again, they refused to trust Him.
If you can’t trust someone, you’re always going to be discontent with what they do. And when you’re discontent, you’re going to complain.
This is the real hidden sin in your home.
Complaining is not okay. It’s not okay because it’s the fruit of discontentment. And discontentment is an affront to the almighty, all-holy, all-loving God of the universe because it’s a refusal to trust Him when he says, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:28-29).
It’s a refusal to trust Him when He says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
It’s a refusal to trust Him when He says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.“ (Matthew 5:10-11).
It’s a refusal to trust Him when He says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
It’s a refusal to trust Him when He says, “He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord” (Psalm 112:7).
It’s a refusal to trust Him when He says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday” (Psalm 37:4-6).
It’s a refusal to trust Him when He says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
I could keep going, but I can hear some of you rolling your eyes.
“Aaron, are you saying that my three year old is whining about having to take a nap because she’s refusing to trust God?”
I’m not saying that she’s doing it consciously. But yes. That’s exactly what is going on.
God put you into her life to protect her physically and spiritually. He commanded her to obey you because He knew that it would be well with her.
But she doesn’t believe obedience is best. She doesn’t trust you. She doesn’t believe that a nap is the best thing for her. She’s discontent because she’d rather do what she’d rather do because she believe’s her way is best. She’s leaning on her own understanding.
She’s not experiencing peace, she’s annoyed, upset, and discontent. That’s exactly why your three year old is whining.
And that’s why we whine too.
Now, last time was about opening our eyes to the complaining in our homes. If you remember, I gave you some LifeWork.
You were to . . .
Well, we just answered number two. So, let’s talk about your Family Talk over the past week.
Comments that communicate dislike can be made very objectively. My wife can ask me if I want to go swimming, and I can very easily say, “No thank you. I’m not a huge fan of swimming.” It’s true. I don’t really like swimming — especially compared to other activities.
That’s not a sin.
But tonight, when my family and I went swimming, if I had a bad attitude and my wife confronts me and I say, “I just don’t like swimming, okay?!” Then I have revealed discontentment that is exhibiting itself in complaining, unkindness, and a general bad attitude. I’m not getting what I want, so I’m going to let everyone know about it.
Is it okay to disagree? Yes, it can be.
A dear friend of mine likes to drink Diet Coke. If I were to drink pop — and I rarely do — I would drink a Root Beer. But I wouldn’t touch a Diet Coke, and it’s okay for me to disagree with her on that.
However, if I’m at her house, and she — out of the kindness and goodness of her heart — serves me a Diet Coke and I go home and grumble to my wife, “Can you believe she did that? What in the world! I thought she cared about me. She just wants to do whatever she wants to do without considering what other people want.”
Well, that’s a sin. It’s betrayed in my word choice; it’s betrayed in my tone; it’s betrayed in the fact that I’m not giving her the benefit of the doubt; it’s betrayed in the fact that I’m setting myself against her.
There is a way to communicate dislike, and there is a way to communicate disagreement, and — technically — you could call that a formal complaint, but what we’re talking about is the communication that grows from a discontent heart. A discontent heart will complain as they express dislike and disagreement. They’ll whine because they’re not trusting God. They’ll grumble because they’re not getting their way. They’ll fuss because —practically speaking — they have decided that what they want is more important than what God wants.
So, what do we do?
What’s the fix?
I’ve given you enough to start down that road, but our final episode in this series is going to be “The Hidden Sin in Our Homes, Part 3 | the truth.” We’re going to talk specifically and practically about how you can teach and reprove and counsel and train your children from discontentment and a lack of faith in God to the glorious contentment that comes from trusting Him.
I hope you’re as excited as I am.
And I hope you do you Amazon shopping with our affiliate links. I hope you rate and review the show. I hope you share this podcast with you friends. And I hope you’ll join us next time.
God wants to set your child free from the sin of complaining. And He wants to use you in that process. So, let’s get together next time to learn how to do just that.
I’ll see you then.
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