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Affront to God's Providential Care?   

"It's too hot. Can't stand today's menu. Hate my room. It's too hard. Need a smoke. Don't like working at the thrift shop. Just can't do it. Too tired. It's too much for me." Sounds like everyday griping, doesn't it? These are complaints we hear repeatedly from our mission residents. But, as so often happens when we try to correct the attitudes of our sheltered men and women, we discover that we, too, are guilty of constant complaining and whining.

Oh, dear…complaining is not just an innocent sin. Pastor John MacArthur warns that all of our complaints are in one sense constant belly-aching against the providential purpose and will of God. He is the sovereign Lord who has ordered the circumstances of all of our lives. To complain about our lives is to sin against God. Ouch!

Trying&Testing the Lord

In 1 Corinthians 10:6-10 the apostle Paul warns us not to "try the Lord" or "test the Lord" as the Israelites did during their wilderness wanderings. Those Israelites were destroyed by serpents and killed by a plague when they grumbled and complained against the Lord's ways and provisions (Benware 2002, 157). Paul writes that these things happened to the Israelites as an example to us and were written for our instruction (1 Cor. 10:11). Grumbling spreads like a cancer and our discontent infects others with our whining attitudes. That displeases our Lord.

God Disciplines&Trains Us

I used to think that Paul's warning to us was simply a quaint anachronism - something true prior to the age of grace. Surely, God wouldn't punish us today as He did the grumbling Israelites, would he? But, in my later years I've come to see that we can suffer serious consequences for our attitudes and misbehaviors today.

Think about these warnings: Christians will be judged for the good and bad things we do (2 Cor. 5:10). We could "shrink in shame" before Christ when we stand before Him in judgment (1 John 2:28). We could lose part of our reward (2 John 1:8) or find what we thought were good deeds burned up as worthless (1 Cor. 3:13-15). We can be "turned over to Satan" which can bring illness or death because we have disobeyed the Lord (1 Cor. 5:5). We can be scourged and disciplined because God says He chastens those He loves (Heb. 12:5-11).

Yes, we are saved by grace through faith and will go to heaven (Eph. 2:8-9). Nonetheless, our future rewards and positions of authority in the Kingdom may be greatly affected by our behaviors and attitudes today (Matt. 25:14-29; Rev. 2:26). God has us training for reigning through our daily hardships and we have a wonderful future (2 Tim. 2:12).

God's Sovereignty&Providential Care

Besides, God loves us and cares for us. Author Jerry Bridges points out that divine providence means that God sustains and governs His universe, bringing all events to their appointed end. "The Son is…sustaining all things by his powerful word (Hebrews 1:3), and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:17)." He gives all men life and breath…For in him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:25-28). He supplies our daily food (2 Cor. 9:10). Our times are in His hands (Psalm 31:15). He is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes (Daniel 4:17)" (1992, 26-28).

Paul reminds us to "Do all things without grumbling or disputing" (Phil. 2:14). The idea is to gratefully receive God's providential care for our lives and to obey God joyfully. It is our thankful, joyful, enthusiastic trust in God that makes our witnessing about Him effective.

I have been convicted to the core of my being! As best I can, no more grumbling and complaining. I want to be a good witness as we instruct those God brings before us at the mission. Will you join me in my quest to quit complaining? After all, God is good and loved us enough to send His own Son to die for our sins (John 3:16). So who am I to complain?


Benware, Paul. 2002. The believer's payday. Chattanooga, TN: AMG.

Bridges, Jerry. 1992. Trusting God even when life hurts. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

MacArthur, John. Stop complaining. (CD. Transcript). gty.org.

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