Tag Archives: grumbling

Warning: Grumble at Your Own Risk




Grumbling is risky business.

Of course, like any temptation, it feels good at the moment we fall to it. The act of grumbling stokes the fires of our sinful pride. It also stokes the fires of hell—the one hereafter and the one we may be creating here and now.

Aside from the fact that we’re flirting with spiritual suicide when we play with this powerful poison, grumbling feels good to us because grumbling is by its very nature a complaint against “The Management.” It implies a superiority of intelligence or dedication or proficiency over a group or person—be it a boss or governing body or organization or business or colleague or coworker or family member, or . . .  Whether he says it or not, and he probably does, the grumbler is loudly implying, “Why, if I was in charge, things would be better! What’s wrong with these idiots? Can’t they see . . .”

Grumbling’s poisonous and seductive appeal is heightened because it is so easy to do and, at the very same time, requires no positive action at all. When we grumble, we don’t have to bestir ourselves to do, well, anything but grumble. And, in fact, as we allow ourselves to enjoy the presently sweet poison of grumbling, the very last thing we want is for the situation or people we’re grumbling against to improve lest we, at least theoretically, have to quit grumbling.

And grumbling snowballs—not only in our own hearts as we fall to its seduction more and more often, but also in our society with others. Habitual and dedicated grumblers always attract a following because everyone enjoys the poisonous pleasure grumbling affords. We all like to feel superior to those in authority. We all like to complain and take no responsibility for doing anything constructive.

I’m at least as prone to grumbling as anyone, so I need to say it again—grumbling is risky business.

If we grumble often and long enough, we so twist, contort, and poison our souls that pretty much all that is left in us is a slimy, stinky, malignant  grumble where once resided a warm human heart.

Because he loves us, God hates grumbling. Evidence abounds, but stark testimony is found in Numbers 21. After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, the Israelites are fed up. Among other things, they’re fed up with manna! They’re tired of the “miserable food” they eat each morning. They’ve become finicky eaters complaining against the cook. I mean, The Cook, and his staff.

Both as punishment and as a way to save others from the infection, God wipes out a big bunch of grumblers.

When I catch myself grumbling, I need to heed the warning: Danger! Grumbling Is Very Risky Business. It easily spreads to all parts of our lives, and in the final analysis, “The Management” we grumble against is God.


        You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!


Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

God, Grumbling, and a Snake on a Stick


As John 3 begins, we have the account of Jesus’ amazing words to Nicodemus the Pharisee about being “born again.”numbers21

Just a few verses later, the Lord refers to a snaky incident recorded in Numbers 21. Unlike Nicodemus, we modern Christians have heard the term “born again” enough that it no longer properly surprises us. What does catch us by surprise is the story from Numbers 21, with which Nicodemus would have been very familiar.

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).

Moses, we know. The wilderness, okay. What, pray tell, about this snake? What was Moses doing with a snake in the wilderness? Ah, it’s an amazing story!

If we want to find out what God thinks about grumbling, we need look no further than Numbers 21:4-8. The people of Israel are being led by God “the long way around” Edom on their way to the Promised Land, but they are already tired of the trip. They also are fed up with what they call “this detestable food.” The food (which the KJV calls “light bread”) was manna from heaven. If you’re a modern child and have never been so persecuted by your parents that you have had to eat something you don’t like, you won’t understand this story. Let’s just say that God has little use for grumbling and grumbles, and he doesn’t appreciate having his cooking criticized.

To punish the grumbling people, an angry God sends “fiery serpents” among the people, poisonous snakes known both for the fire of their venom and also, some say, for the color of their skin. Many Israelites are bitten, and many die.

When the people quickly deem repentance to be prudent, Moses prays for them, and God directs him to build a fiery serpent of his own! Moses is to fashion a serpent of brass, affix it atop a pole, and God promises that anyone who is bitten but who fixes his gaze upon that snake will be healed, and it was so.

That’s amazing, but what does that “souped up” serpent of brass in the wilderness have to do with Jesus? Much!

As the brass serpent was lifted up on the pole in the wilderness, so the Son of God was “lifted up” on the cross (and because of his sacrifice, “highly exalted,” lifted up, by his Father). Those Israelites envenomated by the poisonous serpents simply looked up to that serpent on the pole and lived. (Notice that they looked at the serpent, but that act showed their faith not in the serpent but in the God who had directed them to look.)

Likewise, we who have been poisoned by sin are invited to “look up” in faith to our crucified Lord that we may receive his mercy, healing, and life. Like the snake-bitten Israelites in the wilderness, we face a choice: Will we look up to God in faith and live?


   You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com

Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


%d bloggers like this: