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.
5 thoughts on “Lesson 4 – A Thankful Heart”
OH MY – How we are so like the people of old in our complaining – our forgetting what great things GOD and HIS SON has done for each one of us – enjoyed this lesson so much – I believe when we complain about things in our lives we forget to pray – praise and love the LORD – the complaining will take all of our time and the complaining does not work at all – GOD is the only thing that works in our lives.
1 – The parting of the Red Sea – and only 3 days had passed from the miracle before facing a new trial – NO WATER and then Bitter water – Marah means bad water – Israel forgot the MIRACLES that had happened so far on their travels. Does that not make us thing of now-a-days people thinking.
2 – Children of Israel – Moses and Aaron – wilderness – they had food – they just did not look far enough ahead that another MIRACLE would happen while walking with the LORD.
3 – NO food – Egypt had lots and lots of food for their bodies – the LORD heard their complaints – he sent them Manna – they were still complaining – The LORD sent a great plague.
4 – Complaining against Moses – married an Ethiopian – appeared in a Cloud – the LORD spoke and when HE speaks we should all listen very closely – GOD does not for us to complain – HE wants us to Praise – Love – Have Faith.
5 – Murmur – they were put back into the wilderness because of their complaint and not believing – what a wonderful lesson this is for all people of today – we ask GOD for answers and when HE gives them to us – we sometimes just do not like the answers – these stories are very precious and we should apply each of them to our lives today – there is not much difference at all. Today we should all be happy in the LORD and serve HIM with all of our heart. PRAISE HIM – LOVE HIM – SERVE HIM
Great comments, Odella. Love how you said we forget to praise when we complain, and that criticism takes up so much of our time. God help us! I know we all identify with the complaining here. We criticize the Israelites but we’d be right there with them if we lived back then. Praise and thanksgiving is surely a way to counteract criticism and complaining. Thanks for your great comments.
Good morning! I have gone through the first three questions. From those verses and what I have been reminded of in the times I have forgotten what God has done for me. HE has RESCUED me, PROVIDED for me, DOES NOT give me what I deserve, and even DISCIPLINES me in my lustful desires. In Numbers 11:1-6. God had sent a warning(the fire) of His displeasure in the people’s complaining (he does that now through His Word), and the children of Israel were influenced by the complaining and lustful desire of the “rabble, mixed multitude” (those that came with the Israelites from Egypt) and joined in on their complaining. Oh may we never think that we wouldn’t be right there with them. How many times have I joined in on someone’s complaining…God forgive me!! The Lord is the ALWAYS the One we are complaining against…I need to remember that!! I must focus on His promises of provision…not my desires. After the first complaining God told them IF you diligently heed His voice, DO what is right in His sight(he always sees), LISTEN to His commands and KEEP His statutes (ways) he wouldn’t bring any plaques, diseases on them as He did the Egyptians. They didn’t do that with the quail…so there was punishment and I do that as well when I get my eyes and desires on what I want. GREAT STUDY!
What good insight, Anita, that the fire is like God’s Word today. You reminded me of that verse that says God’s Word is like a fire that consumes and a hammer that breaks the rock of stubborn resistance. Whew! Powerful to chew on that! I think we’re all asking for forgiveness as we identify with the Israelites’ complaining. You mentioned what God told then about heeding his voice and doing what’s right and keeping his ways…lots of conditions for blessings. May the Lord burn these truths into our minds and hearts, helping us to remember the power of praise and thanksgiving. Thanks for sharing.
God takes our complaining VERY seriously! I believe there is always consequences to our sin. Moses pleaded for Miriam’s healing and I believe He did heal her BUT not without her suffering the consequences of her sin. God is gracious but He will not let sin go unpunished. I am thankful for a gracious, just God!