THE COST OF COMPLAINING
“That’s a ridiculous idea!”
“Nothing ever works out for me.”
“They should have never done it that way.”
Negative opinions are everywhere. We criticize people who test our patience and complain because we think we have a better solution. Before long we fall into a pattern of negative thinking and responding, even over things that don’t affect us personally. Either life is unfair or people are stupid. We begin to think everybody else is wrong and we’re the only one who’s right. Can you identify? How can we learn to respond to people and circumstances with a heart of love and grace?
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard was, “Don’t voice your opinion where you have no responsibility.”
Half of the things we criticize or complain about have nothing to do with us. And rarely is our opinion needed in the first place. Maybe that’s why the Bible says to think before we speak. And even a fool is thought to be wise when he is silent. And to be content in whatever situation you’re in. That really hits home, doesn’t it?
This week’s study will introduce us to a nation of chronic complainers. Looking at their negative reactions and the consequences that follow should put the fear of God in us! The counterpart to criticism and complaining is thankfulness and trust. Maybe if we look at the cost of complaining from these stories, it will help each of us take our eyes off difficult situations to focus on the goodness of God.
Read each week’s passage in two or more versions of the Bible. It’s a good idea to write your answers in a notebook and then post your comments on Facebook. It will hopefully prompt a lot of good discussion from those participating. Suggestion: download an app from Bible Gateway to bring up three different versions on the screen at one time. It’s a great tool.
Read Exodus 15:22-24
1. What miracle had Israel just experienced? How many days had passed from the miracle before facing a new trial? What hardship did they encounter? How did they respond? What does Marah mean and what lesson can we learn from this passage? What did Israel forget?
Read Exodus 16:1-3
2. Who are the grumblers in these verses? At whom do they aim their complaint? What caused their murmuring? To what do they compare their present situation? What did they say Moses and Aaron had done? Why is this a ridiculous comparison, considering from where they came?
Read Numbers 11:1-6 and verse 33
3. What is Israel upset about here? Who heard their complaint? How angry does the Lord get? What did they crave and what caused their wailing? What were they tired of? What did the Lord send them and what resulted from it?
Read Numbers 12:1-15
4. Who was complaining against who here? What were the reasons for the complaint? What question does the Lord pose to Miriam and her brother Aaron? What were the consequences of Miriam’s criticism? How does Moses respond to his sister’s punishment? Just how seriously does God take our complaints against Him?
Read Psalm 106:24-27 and I Corinthians 10:10-11
5. What did the people do in the Psalm 106 passage and what was their punishment? What are the commands in 1 Corinthians 10:10-11 and what was the punishment Israel encountered because of it? Why are these Old Testament stories important for us today? What message comes through loud and clear about complaining and criticizing from these verses?
Lord, help us to remember how seriously you take our complaining and criticizing. Put a watch at the door of our mouths so we will use our words in thanks and praise.
As you study these verses and read what others have shared, take note of who is struggling. Do you identify with their comments? As you post your own honest struggles, let that person know you understand and are praying for them. They just might pray for you. It’s what the Body of Christ is all about!
Remember, I hope you will respond and interact with me and with others on our Facebook page. May God bless us as we study and interact together around His Word.