In the book of Isaiah, God had said no to certain things His people wanted. They were told not to worship other gods. They had more or less complied, but their temple worship had become empty and meaningless—a mere ritual. God had told them their worship must not be like this; but they ignored Him, and apostasy followed, which resulted in their beautiful temple being in ruins (see Isa. 1:10-18).
The people of God felt very bad about it; however, they were not sorry for God but for themselves. They wept when they thought of Jerusalem and their temple rituals. They did not weep for their rebellious, contrary hearts. Now that there was no temple in which to worship, they did not realize their error and begin to worship God in spirit and in truth; they simply grumbled and mumbled as had been their habit since Moses led them out of Egypt. When you indulge in self-pity, it’s a miserable affair. No joy in that! he people of God had truly hung up their harps on the Gripe Tree!
I’ve discovered that when I complain, my spirit is overwhelmed. A spirit of complaint leads to discouragement and spoils my relationships. I’ve observed that I can be sitting in a worship service and start to gripe inwardly about the music, the teenager’s earrings in front of me, or the lighting or flowers on the platform. Immediately my spirit of worship disappears, and I am overwhelmed with a sense of discontent. The children of Israel were into complaining—especially in “church.” This did nothing to lift their spirits or fortify their souls.
So how do we stop ourselves from griping and grumbling, thereby losing our joy?
Christians, who should be the most thankful people in the world, often sound the most disgruntled. It’s as if we feel the world owes us something instead of remembering it’s we who owe the world. The apostle Paul thought of himself as in debt to humankind. He believed he owed them an explanation of the gospel. He also felt he owed them a life of service and sacrifice. He was, after all, rich beyond measure.
He had come to know Christ, the priceless Son of God. He had spiritual wealth enough and to spare to pay his debt. Paul had more reasons than any of us to grumble. He was hounded, stoned, imprisoned, beaten, tried unjustly, and abandoned by friends. He was lonely, hungry, shipwrecked, laughed at, homeless, and helpless. But the only thing he grumbled about was the fact that there weren’t enough hours in the day to tell people about his Savior and Lord and to build his church!
Just Between Us Magazine
Just Between Us Magazine