OK – put your hand up if you have ever grumbled (even internally – that counts!) about any of the following.
- The weather: too hot/too cold/too much rain*
- The traffic
- Queues in the supermarket
- Queues for passport control at the airport
- The quality of coffee in a restaurant
- How long it took for the delivery man to arrive with your pizza
- Traffic wardens
- Hotspot (or any other aspect of Test cricket’s DRS)
- Sermons: too long/too theological/too short/not enough meat*
- Church music: too loud/too stuffy*
*delete as appropriate
Those of you who have not had to raise your hand don’t need to read any further. But the rest of us need to stay around and talk (even if I am only talking to myself and the rest of you have moved on to look at photographs of butterflies).
I’m not going to say that if your favourite airline has lost your luggage on each of your three most recent international flights that you shouldn’t drop them a little note of enquiry. Nor am I saying that it’s inappropriate to have a chat with your pastor if you have genuine concerns about his preaching.
It’s the attitude.
It’s quite striking to read Paul’s pretty frank instruction to the Christians of ancient Philippi:
Do all things without grumbling or questioning
The verb form of ‘grumbling’ comes up in another part of Paul’s writing – 1 Corinthians 10, where he is warning his readers to heed the lessons of Israel’s wilderness generation: their grumbling led to their destruction.
An isolated, witty curmudgeon may provide entertainment, but a constant grumbler is not an inspiring person to be around. Grumbling can poison the atmosphere in a community.
Grumbling is the antithesis of gratitude, a sapper of joy and a failure to honour God.