I’ve been thinking about grumbling…

1 May

No not personally and not that I know anyone who is!

So let me explain. In my Bible reading I am following Don Caron’s Bible reading blog on The Gospel Coalition website. In God’s providence, this has meant I’ve been reading through Exodus right at the time we hit Philippians 2. Remember how Paul moves from work out your salvation with fear and trembling because God is at work in you to;

 ‘Do everything without grumbling and arguing so that you may be pure and blameless children of God…’ (2:14)

The link between Exodus and Philippians is life changing. It’s not ‘don’t grumble against friends, the government, and church’. Israel’s grumbling was more serious – don’t grumble against God! We say, ‘Good point! Thanks for the reminder – I won’t grumble against God’.

But pause for a moment. How was it possible for Israel to grumble? Think about it, their grumbling began in Exodus 15 only a short while after seeing the mighty hand of God in Egypt. Just a few days before they had seen Pharaoh’s army destroyed in the Red Sea and they sung about how the LORD was their salvation. Surely that should have taught them humble reverent thanksgiving. So how could they so quickly grumble against God? 

At least part of the answer was that they thought God was simply there to serve them. God had served them in Egypt, now he could serve them with food and water. For them, God was not infinitely glorious but conveniently adequate. They grumbled because his service was not what they had expected.

The contrast with Moses highlights this. Moses humble obedience to God is all the more compelling when compared with Israel’s disobedience and complaining. But when God first called Moses to lead Israel, he complained and made excuses. So what changed him? He saw the glory of God and so learnt humble obedience (see Exodus 3-4).

This is key for us. The less we grasp the infinite glory and value of Jesus, the more we will think he exists to serve our needs and so grumble against him when our circumstances are disappointing. But the more we delight in Jesus, the more we will live out our salvation with godly reverence and joy. There are no neat formulas for this. It’s not read this book, pray this prayer, and do this ministry. No it’s much more profound. It’s a humble striving to consider ‘everything loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 3:8).  This is the cure for grumbling and the path to joy.

In Jesus,

James

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