Tag Archives: spiritual disease

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.


The Worst Spiritual Disease Is “Thinking One Is Well”



God reaching man

In G. K. Chesterton’s “Father Brown” stories, Father Brown is a curious and engaging little priest who often finds himself cast in the unlikely role of detective.

In one story, a friend visiting with Father Brown is describing to the clergyman a strange new religion, one of the popular sort that in 2016 is still very strange and still very popular for no very strange reason. It is, he says, “one of those new religions that forgives your sins by saying you never had any.”

No surprise, that kind of “religion” then or now is the sort where faithful followers often claim, loudly and religiously, to believe in no religion and in no particular God, by which they usually mean that they find it most convenient to worship the god under their own hat.

When Father Brown’s friend goes on to remark that the “new religion” claims “of course” that it can cure all manner of physical diseases, the little priest/detective asks simply, “Can it cure the one spiritual disease?”

Smiling, his friend asks, “And what is that?” And Father Brown replies, “Oh, of thinking one is quite well.”

The little priest/detective has detected this pivotal truth from at least two sources.

First, from Scripture. In his Letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul says that he writes to tell readers how they may obtain the “righteousness of God.” He spends the first three chapters showing us why we need it, and in Chapter Three hammers his point home no fewer than three times. No one is “righteous” apart from God. “All have sinned.” All have “fallen short of the glory of God.”

Secondly, Father Brown has not been living life with his eyes closed. Looking inside and looking outside, he knows that every person has within himself more than ample proof of a “sinful nature” that wants its own way more than it wants God’s—or anyone else’s.

He knows that humans are not creatures who, left to themselves and given all the advantages of a good upbringing, a nice environment, and a fine education, will naturally become nicer, kinder, gentler, and more likely to play fairly with others. Naturally, they are not nice. Humans are not angelic beings whose haloes just want a little straightening and shining up; humans are fallen creatures badly in need of redemption. Real healing comes, not from raising their inherent goodness to a higher level, but when they lower themselves to receive God’s gift of healing for their inherent fallenness.

Yes, the worst spiritual disease is “thinking one is quite well.” Ironically, it’s this “high” and terminally naive view of humanity that has so often opened the door for utter inhumanity. Evil never reigns more completely unchallenged and cruelly than when, blind to the evil inside ourselves and the human race, we fancy ourselves far too advanced, intelligent, and enlightened to see recognize humanity’s need for real healing from outside of itself.

Ultimately, we must choose to trust the Creator or to naively trust fallen humanity. The latter folly ends up being very cruel indeed.

A little priest told me. And he’s right.



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



Copyright 2016 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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