What can you do to curb your complaints?  (C) GUARD YOUR EMOTIONS. To quit complaining you not only have to guard your mind: you’ve got to guard your emotions as well. Have you noticed how you tend to get mouthy when you’re in the heat of passion or emotion? You’re angry. So what do you do? You mouth off. You’re in a hurry and the car in front of you is really driving slow. So what do you do? You mouth off. You’re really discouraged and feel like no one cares about you, not even God. So what do you do? You mouth off. You’re in a jolly good, light-hearted mood. So what do you do? You get indiscreet with your words and you start saying things that you really didn’t mean for people to take the wrong way. I could go on and on, but I think you know what I’m talking about. OUR WORDS ARE A REFLECTION OF WHAT WE’RE THINKING AND WHAT WE’RE FEELING. Our thoughts and emotions reveal themselves in the things we say.

GOOD, POSITIVE, UPLIFTING WORDS BEGIN NOT ONLY WITH GOOD THOUGHTS, BUT ALSO WITH GOOD EMOTIONS. This is where the fruit of the Spirit comes in. I guess you know what they are: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, {23} Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).

  • Instead of being bitter, work hard to love.
  • Instead of being unmerciful, work diligently to become merciful.
  • Instead of being uncaring and unsympathetic, put yourself in other people’s shoes and strive to care and be understanding and sympathetic towards them.
  • Instead of being rude or harsh, concentrate on being gentle.
  • You’ve lived long enough being contrary and divisive. It’s time for you to learn to live in unity and peace.
  • You’ve caused a lot of people a lot of trouble because you’ve been selfish all your life. Now it’s time for you to grow up, die out, and start serving other people.
  • People have put up with you a long time. Now it’s your turn to put up with them and be patient and forbearing towards them.

A HOLY, RIGHTEOUS, EDIFYING TONGUE, DEAR FRIENDS, REQUIRES YOU TO BEAR AND MANIFEST THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT. If you’re not going to manifest the fruit of the Spirit, then you may as well quit trying to live without complaining. You won’t succeed without the fruit!

We can go on and on with the spiritual fruits and virtues that we need to acquire in order to rise above murmuring. The last, but not the least, of these virtues is contentment. Have you ever noticed how you tend to complain when you’re not thankful for what you have? When you’re not satisfied, or when you’re jealous, greedy, and covetous, what do you do? You complain!  You see, discontentment and ingratitude are what drives so many of us to complain. This, dear brethren, has got to stop!


Philippians 4:10-12, But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. {11} Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. {12} I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

1 Timothy 6:6-10, But godliness with contentment is great gain. {7} For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. {8} And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. {9} But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. {10} For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.


When you don’t have the things you want, remember that’s the time to be grateful for what you do have. It’s the time to be content and not become greedy, covetous, or impatient as you wait on God to provide your needs. Want a sure-fire way to stamp out complaining? Be thankful and content! Maintain an attitude of gratitude and vocalize that attitude in praise, thanksgiving, and testimony to God! Let God hear your praises and thanksgivings—not your complaints. Complaints will move God to anger. But praises will move Him to answer. Complaints will add to your misery. But contentment will bring you miracles. Put me to the test! Quit complaining! Be content! Thank God in everything! And watch the Lord move mightily on your behalf! The more you focus on God’s goodness and praise Him, the less you’ll complain. Guaranteed. May God bless you and help you as you try to live without complaining. With God’s grace, you can do it!


Now that you have a Biblical perspective of the Christian life and the trials that attend all of God’s people, you will need to guard your mind whenever trials arise and you’re tempted to complain. Brethren, IF YOU WANT TO QUIT COMPLAINING YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO WATCH WHAT THOUGHTS YOU ALLOW TO ENTER YOUR MIND AND LODGE THERE. OUR WORDS ARE A REFLECTION OF OUR THOUGHTS. WHAT WE THINK WILL EVENTUALLY SHOW UP IN WHAT WE SAY. For example, if all we think about are the bitter things in life, we’ll become bitter persons and we’ll complain about the things that make us bitter. If we give our minds to doubting God’s Word, we’ll become doubtful persons and we’ll end up complaining about the negative circumstances that make us doubt. If our minds are filled with critical thoughts, we’ll become critical and our lips will ooze with criticism. Do you see what I’m saying? OUR WORDS COME FROM OUR HEART. AND WHAT’S IN OUR HEART IS A REFLECTION OF THE THOUGHTS THAT ARE IN OUR MIND.


If we want to keep our heart and tongue holy unto the Lord we must guard our mind and control what thoughts we allow to nestle there. To speak positively we’ve got to keep our minds focused on the positive promises of God. To speak lovingly to, and about, one another we’ve got to meditate on lovely thoughts about one another. To speak respectfully of those in authority we’ve got to have a respectful attitude towards God-ordained authority and submission. To speak edifying words we’ve got to dwell on thoughts that edify both ourselves and the people we’re thinking about.

So how do you keep yourself from complaining? GET YOUR ATTITUDES RIGHT AND KEEP YOUR THOUGHTS POSITIVE. The next time you’re tempted to complain about the guy who doesn’t know too much about fixing cars, be thankful for the expertise he has in fixing computers. The next time you’re tempted to complain about not having a juicy steak for supper, think about all the people in the world who don’t have any food to eat and be thankful that you’ve got stuff in the cupboards and fridge that you can feast on. The next time you’re tempted to complain about a message that steps on your toes, be thankful that the preacher loves you enough to warn you about the unseen dangers you’re in.  The next time you’re tempted to criticize others, look at their good or strong points and commend them for that. Brethren, KEEP POSITIVE, THINK POSITIVE, AND YOU’LL SPEAK POSITIVE!

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post Part 8. Keeping a lid on our lip involves not only keeping a lid on our mind, but also a lid on our emotions. That’s a tough one. But we can do it with God’s help. Drop by next week and let God continue to get the complainer out of you.


We complain because of the wrong ideas we have about life. We’ve looked at two of these ideas already. Let’s look at a third one and see if we can reduce our grumbling quotient even more.

3. I’VE GOT EVERY RIGHT TO COMPLAIN!  Notice what the Israelites complained about in the Desert of Shur and Sin: they complained about not having any food or water. That, brethren, is a legitimate need. We all need food and water. Without it we die. If they complained about lesser things—for example, about not being able to swim, or not being accepted on the football team, or having to drive a full half-an-hour just to get to a Walmart; we wouldn’t be as sympathetic towards them. We can live without swimming, football, or Walmart. But not having any food or water is a different story altogether and we’re inclined to side in with the Israelites in their complaints. The object of the people’s complaints, I’m saying, was valid. What they were complaining about was legitimate. And in our eyes, valid concerns make valid complaints. It’s not wrong to complain about the right things! So we think.

But the thing that I’d like for you to understand is this. God doesn’t want us to complain about anything. Philippians 2:14 exhorts us, Do all things without murmurings and disputings. God, dear brethren, doesn’t want us to complain about anything. Valid   concerns   don’t   make   valid   complaints. Just because you’re complaining for the right things or the right reasons doesn’t make complaining right. Even when valid, legitimate needs are involved—like food or water, or in our day, a job, house, or car; valid, legitimate needs do not legitimize or justify complaining.

You see, as long as you think a valid complaint makes complaining valid, you will never quit complaining. You won’t see anything wrong with complaining: the complaint is valid because a valid need is involved. And as long as you justify and legitimize complaining, you won’t give it up. To live without complaining you’ve got to see that all complaining—for whatever reason, in whatever trial or circumstance—is wrong. It’s sinful. And God doesn’t want us to do it. Complaining just isn’t the way to respond to our trials!

So what are we supposed to do when we don’t like the way things are going? PERSEVERE AND PRAY INSTEAD OF POUT! God promised us that we’d have trials on this desert journey through the wilderness of this world. So He knows we’re going to have legitimate needs and valid concerns. That’s why He also promised to protect us, provide for us, and help us. And the way we obtain His help is by asking Him in faith for whatever it is we need. (Matthew 7:7, 21:22). And if He chooses not to respond right away, we need to persevere and endure until He does (James 1:2-4). He even promised to give us all the grace we need to persevere (Hebrews 4:16). So chin up. Keep a tight lid on your lip. God is an ever-present help in time of trouble (Psalm 46:1).

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post, Part 7. The relationship between our words and our thoughts. Stay with me. We’re just about done!


I’m looking at some of the mistaken ideas we have that incite us to complain. If we can get rid of these ideas we’ll get rid of most of the grumbling that we do. That is the goal. That’s what the Lord wants us to do. So let’s get started and look at another one of these wrong ideas that induce us to complain.

2. I WANT EVERYTHING I WANT! Like the Israelites, we complain because we don’t have what we had, and enjoyed, in Egypt. I’m talking about our past, unregenerate life in the world. We want what we had, and enjoyed, in the world. And when we don’t have it, or can’t have it, we complain.

But instead of complaining, dear friends, you’ve got to understand that you had, and enjoyed, some things in Egypt that God doesn’t mean for you to have, and enjoy, now that you’re a Christian. Times have changed. Things are different. Because you yourself are different. You’ve changed from being the old, unregenerate person that you were. You’re a Christian now and that changes everything for you. The lifestyle you lived and the rules and beliefs, philosophies and morals, that you lived by while you were in Egypt no longer apply to you. You can’t live by them. That’s because you’re a child of God now. And as a child of God, you live under God’s rules, beliefs, and morals. SOME OF THE THINGS YOU HAD IN EGYPT BELONG IN EGYPT. THEY STAY IN EGYPT. THEY’RE NOT MEANT TO BE HAD NOW. They’re not meant to follow you and satisfy you in this desert journey to the Promised Land.

You see, when the Israelites came to the Wilderness of Sin and found no food, they complained because it wasn’t what they were used to. They were used to Egypt. When they were in Egypt they could have whatever their appetites craved for. Egypt satisfied their longings. But the Israelites weren’t in Egypt anymore. They were in the desert. It was totally unrealistic and unreasonable for the Israelites to think they could continue to live and thrive on Egypt’s resources as long as they were in the desert. Some things just aren’t found in the desert! The barrenness of the desert meant they would have to give up some of life’s luxuries—like a pantry full of all kinds of meats and vegetables, a bath every night, fresh clothes to wear everyday, and the like. The desert journey meant they would have to adopt a different lifestyle or diet—one that was conducive to a desert environment. Perhaps, for the very first time, it dawned on them that this journey to the Promised Land meant life for a little while would be different. Changes would have to be made as far as their lifestyle, living conditions, and diet, were concerned. They would have to adapt to the harsh realities of a desert environment. It was a different environment. A totally different environment. And changes had to be made. When the Israelites saw the changes and the trials involved, they didn’t like it very well. And they let Moses know.

In much the same way, you’re no longer in Egypt. There are some things you had in Egypt—some things you enjoyed in your unregenerate days—that can’t be had now that you’re in this walk with the Lord. I’m talking about Egypt’s pleasures and lusts—cigarettes, beer, drugs, unclean and unrestrained sex, to name a few. You lived it up in Egypt and fulfilled your fleshly lusts. You felt good. And when sin’s after-effects caught up with you and you felt bad, you didn’t feel bad for long because there was always a pill or a shot to take the pain away. Now that you’re in this hot and barren desert—this narrow walk of holiness—your flesh cries out for a little bit of fun. For a little bit of Egypt. For a little bit of relief! And if you don’t watch out, you’ll start complaining about this narrow walk of life that God’s set you on. You’ll wonder why you can’t have this or that, why you can’t do this or that, why you can’t enjoy some of the pleasures and fun you enjoyed in the past.

Friends, some things aren’t meant to be had in the desert! You’re a Christian now. God’s called you to a high standard of faith and holiness and obedience. He’s placed you in this desert journey to perfection. Some of the things that you had or enjoyed in Egypt don’t come with the journey. God brought you out of Egypt. What’s in Egypt stays in Egypt. Life is different now. It’s a different way of life. It involves change. That change, dear friends, is spelled C-R-U-C-I-F-I-X-I-O-N.  The change God has called you to make is called dying out and putting fleshly lusts and desires to death. THAT’S WHAT THE DESERT TRIALS, IN PART, ARE ALL ABOUT: GOD’S WEANING YOU AWAY FROM EGYPT, MAKING YOU MORE UNLIKE EGYPT AND MORE LIKE HIS SON JESUS CHRIST. To make it in this desert journey to Glory Land you have to make the change. Quit complaining about what you left behind. Quit complaining about not having some of the things you had in Egypt; or about not being able to do some of the things you used to do in Egypt. You’re in the desert now. Some things are meant for crucifying—not complaining

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post, Part 6. Think you’ve got every right to complain? You might want to reconsider that. I’ll show you why next time. Stay with me, hang tough, and let’s lick this lip problem once and for all.



THE WORDS WE SPEAK COME FROM OUR HEART. Whatever’s in our heart will eventually show or reveal itself by the words that we speak. OUR TONGUE REVEALS OUR HEART.

  • Matthew 12:34, O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
  • Matthew 15:18-20a, But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. {19} For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: {20a} These are the things which defile a man.

Since our tongue speaks what’s in our heart, then, in order for us to curb our complaining tongue we first of all have to deal with our complaining heart. THE HEART IS WHERE OUR COMPLAINTS ORIGINATE.

So why does our heart complain? In Part 2 of my blog we saw that bad attitudes or dispositions incite or induce us to complain. These attitudes or beliefs reside in our heart and mind. We put them there. And IT’S THESE ATTITUDES OR BELIEFS THAT INDUCE US TO COMPLAIN whenever things don’t go our way. It’s like eating something foul. If we put rotten food in our stomach, our stomach and our whole body will react adversely to what we’ve eaten and we’ll get sick within a short matter of time. In much the same way, if we put rotten attitudes and beliefs in our heart and mind, it’ll only be a short matter of time before that rottenness shows up in the way we behave, speak, and conduct ourselves.

So let’s look at our belief system and see if we can fix the problem.

1. I DON’T WANT ANY TROUBLE!  One of the reasons why we complain is because we don’t like the things that are happening to us. Brethren, nobody likes going through trials. And that includes me! But you’ve got to face the cold, hard facts of life and reality. YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TROUBLES AND TRIALS! EVERYBODY HAS THEM. EVERYBODY GOES THROUGH THEM. AND YOU’RE NO EXCEPTION.

As Christians living on this Earth, we have been appointed unto sufferings and trials.

  • John 16:33, These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:3-4, That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. {4} For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.

Do you know what this promise and prophecy of God means, dear brethren? It means we’re going to have our own troubles and trials—just like the Israelites had theirs. It means life on planet Earth is not going to be a Utopia, but, shock of all shocks, we’re going to experience pains, sufferings, rejections, persecutions, deprivations, temptations, disappointments, frustrations, inconveniences, and other sorts of unwanted, undesirable, unpleasant, crucifying circumstances of life. This is what God promised us—all of us. And there’s nothing we can do to change that. Even heathens have their own troubles! Brethren, we’re not in Heaven yet. We’re still on Earth. And as long as we’re on Earth we’re going to have troubles. So get used to it! Get over it!

The Israelites, it seemed, never accepted or got used to the idea that they were going to have troubles. They were traveling in the desert. They lived for forty years in the desert. And all that time they wanted the comforts and provisions they had in Egypt. Their expectations and views of the journey didn’t match the stark, harsh conditions of the deserts through which they journeyed. They expected an Egyptian life in the desert! Naturally, they didn’t get what they had in Egypt because they weren’t in Egypt. That’s why they complained all the time they were in the desert. They complained because “the way it was” was a stark contradiction to “the way we’d like it to be.”

Brethren, don’t expect life to be a Heaven here on Earth. It’s not. The sooner you accept this fact the better off you’ll be. When “bad” things happen, remember that Jesus said they would. Things do go wrong. They break down. They wear out. Accidents happen. Bodies do age and change over time. Sicknesses, diseases, and death still ravage the land. Storms and other forms of natural disasters do occur. Stores run out of certain commodities. Prices go up. The cost of living gets higher and higher the longer you live. Everyone isn’t going to be as nice as you’d like them to be. People are going to fail and disappoint you. Your Christian brothers and sisters are going to fall short of your expectations and desires. The unregenerates of this world are going to hate and persecute you. These, and many more, are some of the unfortunate things that are going to happen to you at some time or another. So get used to it. Instead of complaining about how rotten or  how hard life is, get your heart right. Get rid of your mistaken ideas of what life here on Earth should be like. Get ready for the trials that Jesus said are coming your way.

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post, Part 5. I’ll look at some more of the mistaken ideas we have that incite us to complain. I’ll treat the grouchy ouchy. You bring the Band Aid.



Now that we know where complaining comes from, what can we do to stop it? If we’re going to live without complaining we must first of all acknowledge the fact that MURMURING IS SIN! ALL MURMURING IS SIN! You see, as long as we justify and excuse murmuring we will not give it up. We’ll continue to tolerate it and mouth off as long as we don’t see, or admit, the seriousness and sinfulness of complaining.

Brethren, we’ve got to take complaining seriously and see it the way God sees it! And how does God see it? What does He think about all this complaining that we’re doing? Let’s hear Him speak for Himself.


  • Numbers 11:1a, And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:10, Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
  • Philippians 2:14, Do all things without murmurings and disputing.

When God tells us not to do something, and we go ahead and do it anyway, what do we call it? We call it disobedience. We call it sin.


  • Numbers 11:1, And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.
  • Numbers 12:1-2, And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. {2} And they said, Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the Lord heard it.

God takes our complaints personally. WHEN WE COMPLAIN, UNBEKNOWNST TO US,  WE’RE COMPLAINING TO GOD!

  • Exodus 16:8b, For that the Lord heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? Your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord.
  • Numbers 14:26-27, And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, {27} How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me.

When we complain, to our unawares, we’re finding fault with God and picking a fight with Him.

  • Numbers 21:4-7, And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. {5} And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. {6} And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. {7} Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
  • Numbers 26:9, And the sons of Eliab; Nemuel, and Dathan, and Abiram. This is that Dathan and Abiram, which were famous in the congregation, who strove against Moses and against Aaron in the company of Korah, when they strove against the Lord.

Our murmurings incite God to wrath. As I started out saying, God doesn’t want us to complain. And when we do, He gets mad. And He does bad things to us.

  • Numbers 11:1, And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.
  • Psalms 106:24-27, Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word: {25} But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord. {26} Therefore he lifted up his hand against them, to overthrow them in the wilderness: {27} To overthrow their seed also among the nations, and to scatter them in the lands.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:10, Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

Friends, when things are going badly for you, don’t complain! Things have a way of going from bad to worse when you complain!

Murmuring left undealt with becomes a habit. It becomes our chosen response to life’s trials. And that’s a deadly, dangerous habit to get into! If you read the Scripture text of the wilderness wanderings in one sitting you’ll see that all the people did in their desert journey was complain. They complained in the Wilderness of Shur, Exodus 15:22-24. Then in the Wilderness of Sin, Exodus 16:1-3. When they came to Rephidim they complained because they didn’t have any water to drink, Exodus 17:1-7. When they got to Taberah they complained because they didn’t have the food that they had in Egypt, Numbers 11:1-3. When they finally reached the borders of the Promised Land, they complained because of the giants and strong-walled cities, Numbers 13:1-14:10. From the Wilderness of Zin to Mount Hor, the Israelites complained over the same ole things—no food or water, Numbers 20:1-6, 21:4-9. Even Miriam and Aaron were not immune from complaining. They registered their complaint and disapproval after Moses married an Ethiopian woman and Miriam was promptly chastised by the Lord, Numbers 12:1-15. Then came Korah and his bunch of dissenters who felt that Moses needed their help in leading the people, Numbers 16:1-11. When God swallowed up these rebels, the Israelites blamed Moses and Aaron for the deaths of these dissenters, Numbers 16:41-50.

For forty years, all the people did was complain! Complaining was a habit with them. And the thing of it was, neither miracles nor judgments stopped them from complaining! After all God did for them, and after all the judgments that resulted in death for thousands upon thousands of their families and friends, the Israelites still did not learn to keep their mouths shut or get their attitudes right. They kept right on complaining!

Friends, WHEN YOU BECOME A HABITUAL COMPLAINER YOU’RE SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR GOD’S WRATH AND JUDGMENT. YOU’RE ASKING TO BE BARRED FROM THE KINGDOM! Read it for yourself in Hebrews 3:7-11, Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, (8) Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: (9) When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. (10) Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. (11) So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.

Jude 14-16 confirms the hellish consequences of habitual complaining: And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, (15) To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. (16) These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage (Jude 14-16).

Since murmuring is sin, what implications does this have on our conduct and behavior? (A) When we complain we’re wrong for doing it. At that point, we’ve sinned against God. The first thing God expects us to do after we murmur is repent and ask for His forgiveness. (B) Because murmuring is sin, then we simply mustn’t have a lackadaisical, uncaring attitude about it. We’ve got to take it seriously and stop complaining. Like all other sins, WE’VE GOT TO GET RID OF IT BEFORE IT GETS RID OF US.

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post, Part 4. I’ll look at some of the beliefs we have that induce or incite us to complain. It’ll be a real eye-opener. So drop by next week and get ready to see some things you might not have ever seen before.



Why do we complain? We complain because of what’s going on around us and what’s going on inside us.

1. UNDESIRABLE CIRCUMSTANCES. We complain because we don’t like what’s happening to us. When bad things happen, or when things go wrong, we complain. For example,

  • We complain when we’re faced with threatening types of situations or have unpleasant encounters with people that we don’t particularly care for.
  • We complain when we’re the recipient of unkind words or unjust treatment.
  • A store that doesn’t have what we’re looking for, a car that won’t start, an over-priced meal that was a gastronomical horror, a traffic citation, misplaced keys, kids that don’t behave in the store, and the such like; are all occasions for murmuring.
  • With respect to the Israelites, they complained when Pharaoh made them work harder than before, Exodus 5:20-21; when the Red Sea looked like it was going to be their death, Exodus 14:11-12; and, in our present Scripture text, when they didn’t have any food or water, Exodus 15:23-24 and 16:1-9.

NEGATIVE, UNDESIRABLE CIRCUMSTANCES ARE WHAT GIVE RISE TO MURMURING. Brethren, when bad things begin to happen and you don’t particularly like what’s going on around you, watch your mouth. Unfavorable conditions are favorable for complaining!

2. BAD DISPOSITIONS OR ATTITUDES. We complain, not only because of the bad things happening to us or around us, but also because of the bad things happening inside us. MURMURING IS THE VOCAL EXPRESSION OF SINFUL ATTITUDES AND EMOTIONS THAT WE’VE ALLOWED TO TAKE ROOT IN OUR HEART. For example,

  • If we’re afraid of trials, we’ll complain whenever a trial appears on the horizon.
  • If we’re impatient, we’ll complain if we have to stand in line and wait our turn.
  • If we’re proud, we’ll complain if we don’t get the pay raise or promotion that we think we deserve.
  • If we’re rebellious, we’ll complain if we’re made to do something that we don’t want to do.
  • If we’re discontent, we’ll complain about what we have and don’t have.
  • In the case of the Israelites, they complained because they were fearful, Exodus 14:11-12; they were ungrateful and discontent, Numbers 11:1-6; they were lustful, Numbers 11:4-5, 31-34; they were critical, Numbers 12:1-2; they were unbelieving, Psalm 106:24-25; and they were rebellious, Numbers 16:1-3.

Brethren, if you allow sinful emotions and attitudes to take root in your heart, they’ll eventually show themselves in the way you talk and in the way you respond to undesirable circumstances or trials. In many instances, A LIP PROBLEM IS AN ATTITUDE PROBLEM. BAD WORDS REVEAL BAD EMOTIONS.

3. SELF ALIVE!  ULTIMATELY, THE REAL REASON WHY WE COMPLAIN IS BECAUSE WE’RE NOT DEAD TO SELF. WE AREN’T LIVING THE CRUCIFIED LIFE. You see, while it’s true that complaining feeds on negative circumstances, those circumstances, in and of themselves, don’t have the power to make us complain. We don’t have to complain when bad things happen! But, we complain because that’s how we choose to respond to our trials and undesirable circumstances. And the reason why we choose to complain instead of overcome is because we’re not dying out on the cross like Jesus told us to do.

Complaining is bound to result whenever Self is not being crucified. This is because Self likes to have things go a certain way. And when Self can’t have its own way—when it gets mistreated, denied, and unappeased—Self gets mad and mouths off. THE UNCRUCIFIED SELF IS THE SOURCE AND MOTIVATION OF ALL COMPLAINING. EVERY COMPLAINT IS A MANIFESTATION AND EXPRESSION OF SELF. The presence of complaints betrays, or reveals, the absence of the cross.

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post, Part 3. I’ll begin looking at how we can live without complaining. It’ll be a real toe-stepper, so put on your steel-toe shoes and get ready for work.



Exodus 15:22-26 So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. (23)  And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. (24)  And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? (25)  And he cried unto the Lord; and the Lord showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, (26) And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.

Exodus 16:1-18b And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. (2) And the whole congregation of the children of Israel  murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: (3) And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

(4) Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. (5) And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily. (6) And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that the Lord hath brought you out from the land of Egypt: (7) And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the Lord; for that he heareth your murmurings against the Lord: and what are we, that ye murmur against us? (8) And Moses said, This shall be, when the Lord shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the Lord heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord. (9) And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the Lord: for he hath heard your murmurings.

(10) And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. (11) And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, (12) I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God. (13) And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host. (14) And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. (15) And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat. (16) This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents. (17) And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. (18b) And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack.

It was not long after Israel’s momentous crossing of the Red Sea—a miracle and a deliverance unparalleled in history—that Israel’s praises were turned to complaints as they encountered the many hardships involved in a journey through the desert. Leaving the Sea behind them, the Israelites walked for three days in the Desert of Shur and found no water. As throats began to get irritated and dry, tempers began to flare. Finally, after three days, the Israelites found water at a place called Marah. But the water was unfit to drink. So the Israelites did what many of us today would have done. They complained! “Moses, we can’t make this journey if we don’t have water to drink! Get us some water!”

Well, the Lord took care of that problem by performing another miracle for them. Ah! How good that first drink must have been! Having seen so many miracles in recent days—both in Egypt and in the desert—you would think the Israelites were convinced of God’s presence, protection, and provision. He would take care of them! And because He would, then there’s no need for us to fear or complain. Come what may, God will take care of us!

But the memory of past miracles and the joy of previous answers to prayer are short lived when you’ve got a trial on your hands. Leaving Marah, the Israelites resumed their journey and entered the Desert of Sin. Now scholars tell us that this piece of real estate is truly desert territory. It’s a sandy tract of land that stretches out for mile and miles, with little vegetation and water. Imagine three million people in this desert—hot and dry, the sun beating down mercilessly upon them, with dwindling supplies of food and water, and you’ll guess what the people did. They complained. It seemed as if the trials were getting worse. Hunger was setting in. And with no supply of food in sight, it just didn’t seem like the journey was worth all the troubles they were facing. The promised land just wasn’t worth all the pain they were going through to get there. Clearly, the Israelites didn’t like the way things were going. And complaining became their ready response to their trials.


Of the many sins committed by the Israelites in the desert, the sin of murmuring ranks near the top. In the end, their murmurings literally killed them. God destroyed them in the desert. Though they walked many miles and walked many years towards the land of plenty and promise, the great majority of them never made it.

  • Psalms 106:24-27, Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word: {25} But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord. {26} Therefore he lifted up his hand against them, to overthrow them in the wilderness: {27} To overthrow their seed also among the nations, and to scatter them in the lands.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:10, Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

In their frustrations and complaints, they wished death upon themselves, Exodus 16:3. And that’s exactly what they got!  BRETHREN, BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR. YOU JUST MIGHT GET IT! TO YOUR ETERNAL SORROW AND REGRET.

Brethren, HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF MURMURERS LIE BURIED BENEATH THE DESERT SANDS BECAUSE OF THEIR LIP. They did what many of us today still do when we’re confronted with trials and when things aren’t going our way. We complain. Brethren, do we want to join these bellyachers beneath the desert sands? Or will we learn from Israel’s mistakes? We who are so easily prone to murmurings stand in dire need of keeping our tongues from complaining. Friends, we’ve conducted too many desert funerals! There are way too many cemeteries in the desert. LET’S GET A GRIP ON OUR LIP! OUR VERY SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON IT!

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post, Part 2, I’ll look at the various reasons why we complain. It’ll be a good look in the mirror of God’s Word, so stay tuned.