“Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say rejoice.”
“Many men think that when they are troubled and have not got contentment, it is because they have but a little in the world, and if they had more then they would be content…No, the reason is because the thing is not suitable to a craving stomach.”
Jeremiah Burroughs – English Congregationalist 1600s
Living in Fresno, sunglasses are a necessity. Sunglasses for Fresnans are like umbrellas for Seattle residents. Every day when I get home, I put my sunglasses in the same place right beside the door. And
every morning when I leave I pick them up on my way out. Now there are certain days when I get in my car and put my sunglasses on and everything I see is blurry. I immediately know that one of children has been playing with my sunglasses because their little fingerprints are all over them. As a result I see everything though messed up lenses. Everything looks a bit gloomier and dingier until I clean them off.
This is how the next prayer extinguisher works in our hearts. Grumbling skews the way we perceive everything. Instead of finding joy in life – persons who indulge in grumbling find a problem with just about anything. Therefore it stands to reason that our prayer life doesn’t have a chance if we are constantly grumbling.
Count Your Blessings
In 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 we read, “For I do not want you to be
ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.”
In this passage we learn that God provided food, drink, safety, and guidance for the Israelites when they were wandering in the wilderness. They were privileged people who saw God’s miraculous power when He parted the Red Sea.
They drank water from a rock; Christ was accompanying them on this journey across the wilderness. Look at what Paul says next in verse 5, “Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.” Whoa! Hold on a minute! What did they do? They were idolaters, they were sexually immoral. Verse 10 continues, “And do not grumble, as some of them did – and were killed by the destroying angel.”
Contentment or Bitterness
The Israelites were grumbling and God let their bodies be scattered all over the desert because of it! Incredible! What were they complaining about? They were grumbling about what God had provided for them – the manna; they were sick of it. They wanted leeks and garlics from Egypt. Imagine that kind of attitude when God was providing for them. However, we do the very same thing. A “never-satisfied” attitude seems to be the driving force of our society. God provides us with a place to live, a car, food, and still we grumble about wanting better food, a better car, wishing for more money to pay for the house and do things we want to do. We grumble, and God hates it. He hates complaining. So today I want to show you how you can learn to stop grumbling.
At the heart of grumbling is a lack of contentment. First, you have to learn contentment. “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
(1 Timothy 6:6) It’s great gain not to make a lot of money; great gain not to have a successful business with perpetuity in your income or multiple strains of income – that’s not it. Contentment and being Godly is great gain. Verse 7 says, “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” You are not going to take your 401K to heaven, so stop worrying about it. Turn off MSNBC or CNBC or whatever ticker you are watching, just so you can worry about your future. Your future is in God’s hands and you will be taking none of your earthly gains with you. Verse 8: “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” We need to be content with the basic necessities of life because we have Jesus – and He is all you need. Do you believe this? If not you need to learn contentment.
Secondly, you need to learn to be thankful. We’ve talked about that before. We looked at Psalm 100:4 where David says, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.” Give thanks to Him and praise His Name. When you begin your prayer, start with gratitude. Gratefulness for who God is and what He has done. We hallow His Name, as we talked about in The Lord’s Prayer, and we are also grateful for what He has done, and what our Father has given to us. List 10 or 15 things every day when you wake up – things to be thankful for – sunlight, life, a wonderful family – begin to be grateful for the things God has given you.
Last, learn to give. Nothing will break the hold of selfishness and grumbling like giving. It is almost impossible to be giving and to be ungrateful and grumbling at the same time. The Bible teaches that if we see brothers in need and we don’t give them what they need, we might as well not have any faith at all. Look around today at the needs of others and see what you can do to help. You can’t meet all their needs, but there are some you can meet. And that will break the back of grumbling in your life.
Today start by taking off the blurry sunglasses causing you to see life through the skewed lenses of grumbling. Repent of the ways in which you have not found contentment in Christ. Then write out a list of all the things you have to be thankful for. Then sit down and think about one way you can meet someone’s need today. As you apply these concepts in your life, watch and see how your prayer life is freed from the tyranny of grumbling.