When you look at the Bible, there are a lot of instances when people murmur and complain to God. When we look around us, we find a lot of people whining, whether they are young or old, rich or poor, healthy, or sick, male or female. Murmuring has become so common that it has become part of our lives and society.
However, did you know that murmuring shouldn’t be part of our Christian life? If we strive to be pleasing to God, then we need to stop murmuring. You might ask the question, why?
Why should we stop murmuring? In this blog let me share with you good reasons that we must avoid murmuring and how to overcome them.
The physical heart murmur
When I was in college, we discussed the cardiovascular system. That’s where I learned about “heart murmurs.” In normal condition, the sound of our heart is lub dupp. This sound is produced by the closing of our heart valves. But when you have heart murmurs, there’s an extra whooshing or whishing sound which can only be heard initially with the aid of the stethoscope.
Here’s an interesting fact: a heart murmur is not the disease itself, but it is an indication of a heart problem. If you have a heart murmur, there’s a possibility that you have a congenital heart problem, valve calcification, endocarditis, and rheumatic fever. When you have a heart problem, you can quickly get tired, and you can’t breathe properly. You suffer from chest pain, and when nothing is done to address the issue, you will eventually die.
Now, here’s the point I want to drive into: Like the physical heart murmur, spiritual heart murmurs are also dangerous for us. The act of murmuring is not the real problem, but it is our heart. Constant murmuring is an indication that there’s something wrong with your attitude and relationship with God.
The ancient art of murmuring
Murmuring is such a common problem in the Bible. However, nothing beats the murmuring of the Israelites. In I Corinthians 10:11, we read that their story is recorded for us so we can learn from them. Thus, let us go back to history and see what we can learn from their constant murmuring and complaining.
Let’s read Exodus 14:10-12:
“And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.”
This was the time when the Israelites were trapped. On their front was the Red Sea. On the sides were mountains and behind them were the angry Egyptian soldiers who were ready to slay them.
After witnessing the mighty hand of God while there were in Egypt, the Israelites were still BLIND to the fact that God is more powerful than their enemies. Instead of trusting in God, they murmured and complained!
Thankfully, In spite of their unbelief and rebellious attitude, God saved them on that day.
Murmuring as a way of life
After the Israelites miraculously crossed the Red Sea and witness the defeat of the most powerful military power during their time, do you think they are done with murmuring and complaining? Far be it!
We read again of another incident where they complained.
“And they journeyed from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they departed from the land of Egypt. THEN THE WHOLE CONGREGATION OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL COMPLAINED AGAINST MOSES AND AARON IN THE WILDERNESS” (Exodus 16:1-2).
For the Israelites, complaining and murmuring seemed to be a regular part of their lives. It appeared that they have already mastered the art of murmuring.
Of course, when you read the history of Israel, there are more instances that they murmured and complained even right after being punished or have seen God’s miraculous intervention in their lives. From the lowest of the people to the leaders of Israel, there was a fingerprint of murmuring in their lives.
The danger of murmuring
If we continually murmur and complain, we eventually forget all the good things God has given to us. The moment you murmur, grumble, and complain, you begin to be unthankful.
You become an ingrate.
Just like the ancient Israelites, instead of being thankful for God’s mercy, grace, and love, they focused on their problems. They focused on themselves. They forgot about God’s power and instead, murmured.
In Exodus 16:2, we read that the Israelites were complaining about Moses and Aaron. However, in reality, whom are they complaining to? We read in verse 8.
“Also Moses said… Your complaints are not against us but AGAINST THE LORD.”
When you complain about the rain; when you complain about the heat of the sun; when you complain about the food on our table; when you complain how ugly you are; how dark or light your skin is; how flat or pointy your nose; when you complain that you don’t have clothes to wear when in reality you have a lot of them – when you do those things, you are not just complaining to yourself or to others.
You are actually complaining to God! You are complaining to the Yahweh, the Creator, the Supreme Ruler of this vast universe!
Murmuring is an insult to God.
Now, we might be wondering, how could these people be so unthankful? How can they constantly be murmurers and complainers? Murmuring is really not the problem, but their heart. They have a spiritual heart disease that’s causing their spiritual heart murmur.
The consequences of murmuring
What happens when you always murmur? Let’s read Numbers 11:1.
“Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and HIS ANGER WAS AROUSED. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.”
When we complain, it displeases God. And when we don’t stop with our murmuring and complaining, what happens? His anger is aroused. When you look into the Hebrew word of anger, it pertains to the nose. It describes the gradual, heavy, and rapid breathing of God because of displeasure.
At first, when the Israelites complained and murmur, He just let it pass. He still saved them from the Egyptian. But there will come a time when our murmuring and complaining will lead to problems and ultimately to our destruction.
Neal Maxwell, a best-selling author, once said, “A basic cause of murmuring is that too many of us seem to expect that life will flow ever smoothly, featuring an unbroken chain of green lights with empty parking places just in front of our destinations.”
If we feel that the world owes us something and we always have the attitude of self-entitlement, it’s super easy to murmur when we don’t get our way.
Well, some of you may think, murmuring is just a little sin. It can’t be that serious. But is it?
When left unchecked, murmuring can lead to ingratitude, dissension, strife, pride, distrust, rebellion, and ultimately, death. Just like a heart murmur, at first, you only hear it with a stethoscope. Then it gets louder and louder until our heart can’t efficiently pump blood anymore and irreversible damage takes place.
An instruction against murmuring
The Apostle Paul knows how important it is to stop murmuring. Thus, he wrote in Philippians 2:14-15:
“DO ALL THINGS WITHOUT COMPLAINING AND DISPUTING, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”
You can’t be blameless, harmless, and a light to the world if you constantly murmur or complain.
If you complain about having too many assignments, you don’t become a light to your classmates. If you complain about your job and how your boss gives you a lot of tasks, that’s not being a light to your co-workers. If you constantly complain how tiring it is to be a husband or wife, then you are not being a light to your children.
You see, murmuring focuses our mind on the self. It is pure selfishness. It’s me, me, me. Murmuring is a sign of pride because when you murmur, you want to get people’s sympathy and persuade them to be on your side of the argument. Did you notice how murmurers love company?
Of course, I need to stress out that not all heart murmurs are dangerous. From a medical point of view, there are heart murmurs that are perfectly normal. In the same way that not all complaining is bad. We read an example in Acts 6:1-7 how the Grecians or Hellenists complained how they are being neglected in the daily distribution. Now, this type of complaint allows the Apostles to recognize a problem and looked for a solution.
Complaining becomes a problem when you complain about something that you can’t change. You complain to criticize, and you complain out of selfishness, ingratitude, and pride.
The cure for spiritual heart murmurs
So instead of using all your energy in murmuring and complaining about almost everything, let’s do what the Apostle Paul wrote in I Thessalonians 5:16-18.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Instead of murmuring, we must rejoice always. Murmuring will just rob us of our joy.
Instead of murmuring, we must pray to God and present to Him our concerns. God is more than willing to listen to us and give the desires of our hearts.
Instead of murmuring, let’s be thankful for all the beautiful and marvelous things He has done for us. It is better to be grateful than to murmur. Focus on the good things in life rather than the negative.
When you do these, you will cure your spiritual heart and get rid of its murmuring.
As Christians, let us avoid needless murmuring and complaining because it leads to a lot of troubles. Instead of murmuring, let us stay close to God and leave everything in His hands. By doing so, you will soon see how life is much better without murmuring and complaining!