Allow Me to Vent: How Not to Be a Grumbling Israelite

Allow Me to Vent: How Not to Be a Grumbling Israelite

If we simply want a guilt-free moment to complain, then we are guilty of the sin of grumbling and also guilty of attempting to justify our sin rather than stomping on its head. Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us not justify or excuse our sins, even the seemingly little ones, but let us put it to death as we put on the mind of Christ.

Another Thanksgiving is in the books, placing us firmly in the midst of the holiday season. Although Christmas/Advent is my favorite time of year, I will likely receive your solemn nod of agreement when I say that these days never go as smoothly or joyfully as planned.

Now we could point to a multitude of reasons behind these holiday hiccups, yet the chief among them is often friends and family. Apart from the worshipful significance of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, the next greatest joy of these holidays is gathering with friends and family, yet ironically, those gatherings also often lead to many holiday frustrations. The mingling of such gladness and frustration should not be as surprising to us as it so often is. The Holy Spirit did not inspire the words of 1 Peter 4:9 for nothing: “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

Alexander Strauch says what all who show hospitality know to be true:

Certainly the ministry (and corresponding inconveniences) of hospitality can easily rattle our grumbling bones. Hospitality demands old-fashioned hard work. It may be costly and is often inconvenient. It is time consuming. It places a strain on the family. Sometimes guests abuse their Christian brothers’ and sisters’ hospitality. And during times of persecution, hospitality can even be dangerous.[1]

It is entirely natural to grumble under such work, but as Christians, we are called to kill our old, sinful nature and to put on the nature of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus, while grumbling may be natural, it is nonetheless a sin.

Indeed, the great case study on the sin of grumbling is the people of Israel in the wilderness. At the end of the same chapter where the Israelites sang the first recorded psalm of praise to the LORD for drowning Pharaoh and parting the sea, they begin their grumbling. “And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink’” (Exodus 15:24)? And their grumbling continued throughout their wilderness journey and wandering. Lest we dismiss grumbling as harmless, hear the words of 1 Corinthians 10:6-12 (emphasis added):

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