Complaint Department

October 31, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

I think the we all visit the complaint department on a regular basis. We complain about our jobs, our kids, our parents, the weather, our government, our spouses… But there can be a problem when complaints become a habit.

Last Sunday we talked about complaining in the second part of a new series called “Down But Not Out”. I wanted to post the notes from the message so that you could review what we looked at and see how God’s Word in Numbers 11 may be applied in your life.

 

 

Series:      Down But Not Out

Part 2:            Demands & Complaints

10/28/12

We know we shouldn’t complain

Don’t complain about your problems. 80% of the people don’t care, and the other 20% think you deserve them.

– Mark Twain

Problem with complaining…

( from Steve Pavlina—Personal Development for Smart People)

“Complaining, like all thought patterns, is not mere observation.  Complaining is a creative act.  The more you complain, the more you summon your creative energies to attract something to complain about.  Your complaints may seem fully justified, but realize that whenever you complain, you are placing your order for more of the same.  Complaining is not merely about the past.  Whenever you make a complaint, realize you are setting an intention — a goal — for the future.”

Complaining is:

  1. Contagious—it can change the whole atmosphere of a group
  2. Habit forming—always looking for the downside, problem
  3. Distorting—prevents us from thinking clearly and seeing reality

CAUTION:     There is a difference between complaining and being honest

  • A difference between taking off the fig leaves and confessing sins or shortcomings in the room of grace so that healing can take place

Set up:

God has freed the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt (they were slaves there for about 450 years). He has chosen Moses to lead them to the Promised Land. The Book of Numbers is an account of their forty-year journey.

At this point in the story, God has been caring for the Israelites for over a year in the wilderness—including the provision of manna (bread from heaven) which appeared along with the dew every morning.

Numbers 11:4-34

Quail From the Lord

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”

The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin. 8 The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a handmill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into cakes. And it tasted like something made with olive oil. 9 When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down.

10 Moses heard the people of every family wailing, each at the entrance to his tent. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. 11 He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers? 13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”

16 The Lord said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you. 17 I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone.

18 “Tell the people: ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The Lord heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it. 19 You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, 20 but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’”

21 But Moses said, “Here I am among six hundred thousand men on foot, and you say, ‘I will give them meat to eat for a whole month!’ 22 Would they have enough if flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them?”

23 The Lord answered Moses, “Is the Lord’s arm too short? You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”

24 So Moses went out and told the people what the Lord had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the Tent. 25 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took of the Spirit that was on him and put the Spirit on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but they did not do so again.[a]

26 However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the Tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp. 27 A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”

28 Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!”

29 But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” 30 Then Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.

31 Now a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea. It brought them[b] down all around the camp to about three feet[c] above the ground, as far as a day’s walk in any direction. 32 All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail. No one gathered less than ten homers.[d] Then they spread them out all around the camp. 33 But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague. 34 Therefore the place was named Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had craved other food.

We see the three primary types of complainers in this story—and we all do these in one way or another

1) The whiner:         favorite phrase—“it’s not fair”

Very popular with kids—but we continue it into adulthood

The whiner is always looking at what others have

  • Always comparing themselves with others
  • This is a sure way to have a miserable life
    • Because there will always be someone richer, more talented, and better off than you.

Manna was a perfect food to sustain the people in the wilderness

  • And it was provided everyday

But—like us—they began to see a blessing as a curse

Contagious—The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat!

Habit forming— and again the Israelites started wailing

Distorting—We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.

  • Were these items really at “no cost”?!?
  • The cost was slavery/freedom/the whip/labor/imprisonment

2) The martyr:          favorite phrase—“nobody appreciates me”

10 Moses heard the people of every family wailing, each at the entrance to his tent. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. 11 He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers? 13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”

The martyr

  • Overworked
  • Underpaid
  • Nobody will listen
  • Nobody understands
  • Nobody appreciates me

3) The perfectionist:          favorite phrase—“Is that the best you can do?”

The perfectionist is never satisfied with anything and they continually point out shortcomings

  • Focus on the negative and miss incredible positives

Both the Israelites and Moses suffer from this too

And we suffer from all three at times

Philippians 2:14-15

14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe

Don’t complain

How do we do that?

  • We can force it
    • My way or the highway
    • “Quit crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!”

But complaining is a heart issue

  • It is really a spiritual matter
  • We are charging God with not running the universe correctly

How can I stop complaining?

1) Admit that complaining is a problem for you

If you have been thinking about your spouse or kids or neighbor or co-worker

  • You have a blind spot
  • You complain

You may not be a person who voices their complaints out loud very much—but what about your thoughts

Complaining isn’t just a fault

  • God says it’s a sin
  • The Israelites complaining is what keep them wandering in the desert wilderness for 40 years

That is why God is angry in this passage—it’s a righteous anger

  • He’s disciplining his chosen people to cleanse them of their complaining spirits

19 You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, 20 but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’”

The first step to dealing with the problem of complaining is admitting that complaining is a problem for you

2) Share the issue with another

This may seem strange—“if I’m not supposed to complain, why are you telling me to complain?”

16 The Lord said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you. 17 I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone.

We need each other… when pressures come, we feel alone, isolated, and flawed.

3) Focus on that for which you can be thankful

“I complained that I had no shoes, until I met a man with no feet.”

What can we be thankful for today?

4) Replace the habit of complaining with the habit of positive words

Catch people doing something right rather than wrong and then offer praise and encouragement rather than criticism

5) Trust God to accomplish His purpose through the circumstances of your life

Imagine what God says to you:

  • What do you have to complain about
  • You will be taken care of—because I love you and you are precious to me
  • I’m for you—and I will always have your best interests at heart
  • Nothing can separate my love from you
  • I will never leave you or forsake you

If you wonder about that—think about Jesus

  • If anyone could say it’s not fair or nobody appreciates me or is that the best you can do
  • It’s Jesus

Look at his life

  • People made unreasonable demands on his time
  • People accepted his gifts without gratitude (healing, provision)
  • People lied about him—called him a drunk and questioned who he hung out with
  • He was betrayed by a disciple he had lived with for 3 years
  • Denied by another 3 times
  • Wrongly convicted, sentenced to die, and nailed to a cross

How could he do this?

HE COMPLETELY TRUSTED GOD TO ACCOMPLISH HIS PURPOSE THROUGH THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF HIS LIFE

1 Peter 2:21-24

21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

22 “He committed no sin,
 and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

This is the key to our complaining

  • Understanding the truth about us
  • And the truth about God

We won’t stop complaining until we realize what Jesus has actually done for us.

  • And what he’s doing in and through us right now

Look at this story of Israel—God’s people…

  • God was preparing a people to go to a land
    • This was to fulfill a promise he had made hundreds of years earlier
  • He heard their cries from the bondage of slavery
  • He brought a leader to free them
    • 10 plagues designed to force the Pharoh’s hand
    • Last was the Angel of death—blood from lamb on a doorpost
  • He freed them from bondage and led them out of slavery
  • He not only guided them through the wilderness, but he went with them
    • Cloud by day
    • Pillar of fire by night
    • Tabernacle—tent of meeting
  • In that time he provided, taught, disciplined, loved, and changed them
    • manna
  • He brought them to the land and gave it to them as promised

Our story the same as Christians—God’s people

  • He has made a promise that we are not only God’s people—but members of God’s family… and he has prepared a place for us (a land—a final destination)
  • He hears our cries from the bondage of sin
  • He brought a Savior to free us
    • The lamb of God—sacrificed for us
    • Blood shed to pay for our sins
  • He frees us from our bondage to sin
  • He not only guides us through the wilderness, but he goes with us
    • Holy Spirit
    • Other believers
  • In this time he provides, teaches, disciplines, loves, and show that he has changed us
    • Feed us with spiritual food—his Word and Spirit
  • He will ultimately bring us to the land and give it to us as promised

 


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