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1 Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the LORD; and when the LORD heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. 2 The people therefore cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the LORD and the fire died out. 3 So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the LORD burned among them.  Numbers 11:1-3

Complaining is an activity all of us have participated in at one time or another. Most of us utter complaints without even thinking about it. It seems almost natural to vocalize our displeasure when things don’t quite turn out as we think they should.  To watch the evening news gives one the idea that complaining has become the national past-time. The reason the newscaster has to throw in a story with a happy ending at the end of the newscast is to avert nationwide depression due to all the negative news.
The Bible has much to say about the practice of complaining. The Scriptures tell us not only what people complain about, but also how it affects others and how God responds to it. We may not take our complaining seriously, but God does.  Numbers chapter 11 gives us a good idea of just how serious the sin of complaining is to God.  When it is all boiled down, complaining is an accusation against God. Complaining accuses God of unjust treatment.  As this real life situation played out, notice the familiar themes.  By the way…the word here for “complain” means to whine in self-pity and remorse.

  • The people developed “ingratitude” for God’s continued care.
  • The people constantly complained about what they didn’t have – “meat”.
  • The people constantly complained about what they used to have – “the food from Egypt”.
  • The people constantly complained about what they did have – “manna”.
  • The results of constantly complaining…IT IS CONTAGIOUS!
  • Complaining led to muttering, muttering led to mourning.
  • Even Moses began to moan and groan about the people to the Lord.  The people’s complaints eventually wore him down.

Eventually, complaining must be corrected.  God corrected the situation by fire and giving them the desires of their heart, meat.  They ate so much so fast, they vomited it out their noses.  Yuck!

Some would accuse the Lord of being harsh and vindictive.  The truth is if a person is allowed to continue to live with a spirit of complaining, they will eventually grow hard and bitter.  I am sure you have seen some “spoiled brats” out in the world.  They were given everything they wanted and yet are constant complainers.   The Lord would have His children grow to be sensitive to this sin and realize the impact ingratitude can have on our hearts and lives. It is a deadly spiritual toxin.   This is why I Thessalonians 5: 18 says, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

If you are prone to share in this sin, repent and make a list of things for which you should be thankful.  Take some time to express to the Lord how grateful you are for His provisions.  It will change your life and the atmosphere around you.