primitive baptists
primitive baptist ministers
make a donation
contact us

article details
» Back to Article Listing » Home
Sin of Complaining

Author: Bill McCarthy
right click and select save target as

The Sin of Complaining


By Elder Bill McCarthy


Bible study often requires one to pause and reflect on why God preserved a particular scripture, that is, to ponder just what the reader is supposed to learn from and about God from it.

Approaching the book of Lamentations, several structural background facts are readily gathered, such as, the prophet Jeremiah is generally accepted as being its author; it was written as acrostic poetry around 580 B.C.; the book provides the author’s eye witness response to the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem, including the 400 year old temple of Solomon burned to the ground. In poetic elegance, the prophet pours out the agonies of his heart and soul, lamenting the complete collapse of his nation and the enslavement of his countrymen.

When present day matters are viewed in light and context of the man Jeremiah, we are reminded first that collapse of great civilizations is possible, having numerous historical precedents – that the health of a country and society require care, nourishment and prayer; and second, collapse of the lives of saints is not only possible but probable without care, nourishment and prayer.

And third, hope survives. In the midst of agony, pain and suffering, in surrounding destruction and despair, Jeremiah wrote, “Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.” Lam 3:18-21

It was the prophet’s hope that anchored him to God’s eternal reality, a saving hope that is unknown apart from faith and obedience. “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” Heb 6:19a.

This echoes the sentiment of Job,

Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” Job 13:15. And Paul, whose soul looked “not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor 4:18), as Paul walked “by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7).

Even as Jeremiah’s world was disappearing in the solvent of God’s promised judgment, executed on his countrymen by murderous foreign invaders, even amidst the sounds and smells of the turbulent, swift-flowing streams of death and suffering, with his heart so heavy it must have felt broken and irreparable, Jeremiah knew that God is just, agreeing with Abraham that the Judge of all the earth would always do that which was right. Gen 18:25.

Yes, Lamentations is important as historical information and commentary, giving powerful emphasis to the gravity of the judgment of God; yet, its purpose as Holy Scripture serves a far greater purpose. It is the bill of lading for delivered goods purchased by the sins of Judah, an evidentiary receipt of the completed transaction of promised consequences. Jeremiah’s people were a people chosen to privilege. Romans 3:1-2. But Judah turned that privilege into license to ignore God, and the time had arrived for execution of the judgment of God. Jer 1:15-16.

The inspired, written word of God breathes meaning and life into our time experiences, and a particular scripture often teaches us different but consistent messages. The core, central message  of the book of Lamentations is found in, Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?” Lamentations 3:39.

When read in the context of the life of the prophet bearing the message of judgment to his own people and showing forth that a man imbued with the Spirit of God can endure all things (“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Php 4:13), the prophet, lamenting the calamities about him, stands fast (Gal. 5:1) and does not complain; rather, his expectations from the Lord soar. Lam 3:22-23.

To murmur is to grumble, whine or complain without proper reason, so to murmur is to complain, and both are sinful conduct according to scripture. Numerous incidents of murmuring that displeased God are found in the Old Testament. See, for examples, Num. 14:1-3; Exo. 16:2; Deu 1:27; Isa 29:24. Likewise, there are examples in the New Testament: Matt 20:1-16; Luke 5:29-32; John 6:41.

John 6:43 records that Jesus said, “Murmur not among yourselves.” Paul wrote, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” Php 2:14-15. Peter agreed, “Use hospitality one to another without grudging.” 1 Pet 4:9. See also 1 Cor 10:10.

A wit said, if Christians spent as much time praying as they do grumbling, they would have nothing to grumble about. A psychologist wrote, “Over the years of counseling, I’ve noticed that some people start every session with a complaint. They can’t seem to help it. Like my mother, they are addicted to complaining.” Margaret Paul, Ph.D.

Have we forgotten what it means to be a Christian, that our conduct and attitude are to be as the light of a candle, shining forth to glorify our heavenly Father (Matt 5:14-16)? Scripture is abundantly clear – Jesus preaches a discipleship of heartfelt, joyous gratitude to God, having Christ in us, the hope of glory. Col. 1:27.

The next time we find ourselves complaining of anything, let’s call to mind and fortify our souls with the stalwartness of Jeremiah.  □

Elder Bill McCarthy
March 7, 1934 – February 25, 2017

Published: 2010-10-17 by BDM


larry heldman  

Elder James Compton (1905 - 2007)
Elder James Compton was the original founder of the 'Gospel of Grace Tape Supply.' His collection of tapes began as he traveled to Church meetings and Associations recording sermons on Reel to Reel. He has maintained this library of sermons faithfully over the years and are now the foundation of PB Sermons. org. This web site is dedicated to Elder James Compton (1905 - 2007)